The People Behind The Controversial BBC "Hunger Games" Show Deny It's Exploitative

A source close to the programme told BuzzFeed News the casting advert had been misinterpreted and Britain’s Hardest Grafter is a straightforward current affairs show.

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There has been outrage online this week after the Graduate Fog website reported the BBC was recruiting “youngsters to compete for cash in a Hunger Games-style reality show".

The website quoted a representative from the production company, who told them that 25 British workers on minimum wage would undertake a series of challenges and "at the end of each episode, those who have produced the least will be eliminated and by the end of the process, just one worker will remain". They also said the winner would receive £15,000 and all contributors would receive at least minimum wage throughout the show.

Twitter was outraged, and a petition to stop the show has now received almost 15,000 signatures.

Introducing the BBC's new reality TV show: Benefits Street meets The Hunger Games TELL ME THIS IS NOT REAL

This poor bashing is ugly. We have Murdoch owning the company behind Benefits Street & the BBC getting the poor to scrap for a pittance.

Dear CBS and BBC: Dystopias like Hunger Games are supposed to be a warning, not a how-to manual for your next reality shows.

However, the show doesn't seem to be as similar to Hunger Games as it first appeared. The production company behind the show, Twenty Twenty, told BuzzFeed News: "Britain's Hardest Grafter is a current affairs commission and not an entertainment format, and is at the very earliest stages of production. The welfare of those taking part is of paramount importance and it is a misinterpretation of the concept of the series to suggest it is exploitative."

A source close to the production team claimed Graduate Fog misinterpreted the advert, saying the show is a straight current affairs programme for BBC Two and the competition element is intended merely to highlight the jobs people do. The source added that the show will also address issues and challenge myths surrounding low paid sector and the unemployed, and that when it airs, viewers will be satisfied the subject matter was dealt sensitively. Another source close to the show believes that the production company's contestant search was just clumsily written.

However, that was not enough to satisfy Graduate Fog's founder, Tanya de Grunwald.

She told BuzzFeed News: "It's good to hear Britain's Hardest Grafter may not be quite as awful as it sounds – however, we only have the makers' word for that, and I have lost confidence in their judgment."

She added that paying the minimum wage to contestants was not enough, nor was the winner's prize after it has been taxed. And she questioned why the advert seemed to describe one show while the BBC and the producers describe another.

"Clearly, saying the show felt 'distinctly Hunger Games' was not meant to suggest that anyone was fighting to the death. It was about poor people – including the young – being set challenges for the entertainment of other, more fortunate viewers. That felt gross to me – and I'm heartened that the British public had the same strong reaction."

Scott Bryan is a TV editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London. Contact this reporter at:

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