Praise for Barnstaple from 'secret' millionaire

THE man behind the controversial television programme which angered MP Nick Harvey because of its portrayal of Barnstaple, has thanked the town for making him feel at home Kevin Green spent nine days under cover in Barnstaple to make The Secret Millionair

THE man behind the controversial television programme which angered MP Nick Harvey because of its portrayal of Barnstaple, has thanked the town for making him feel at home

Kevin Green spent nine days under cover in Barnstaple to make The Secret Millionaire programme which was screened by Channel 4 last week.

Mr Harvey claimed the show had been deliberately edited to make levels of poverty in Barnstaple appear worse than they were.

He said he was "furious" at the depiction of the town presented in the show and would be taking the matter up with Channel 4 chief executive Andrew Duncan "as a matter of some urgency"


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But Mr Green, who donated money to Children's Hospice South West, Barnstaple Poverty Action Group and the Amber Foundation, issued the following statement to the Gazette: "Having spent nine days under cover in Barnstaple and the surrounding area during my Secret Millionaire experience, given the nature of my purpose, I was there as a social commentator and philanthropist.

"I know some people who have visited this area may have not witnessed what I saw first-hand and were not there for such a purpose.

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"My sentiments towards Barnstaple are that it is a very welcoming town with beautiful areas, but like possibly any town in the UK, experiencing some social and economic problems.

"My experience under cover was designed for me to choose how I could help the people and organisations locally, working towards a better quality of life. I thank all the organisations and more importantly people for making me feel so at home. I will be returning many times in the future."

Mr Harvey said that, while the money the millionaire donated to the charity groups was very welcome, the unnecessarily negative PR was not.

"What Channel 4 gave with one hand, it potentially took away from our tourist industry with the other," he said.

But while My Harvey criticised the show, Phil Davey, manager of BPAG, which received a �12,000 donation from Mr Green, said the programme drew attention to "real" problems in the area.

He said: "There clearly are problems in the area; the deprivation and poverty in North Devon are what they are.

"There are real problems here; the best thing to do is acknowledge these problems, understand them and work to resolve them. It was certainly an antidote to the sometimes twee and condescending chocolate box images of the South West that can airbrush out the real problems and experiences of people living in the area.".

Mr Davey said that feedback to the show had been "overwhelmingly positive".

"It was an excellent showcase for the three organisations that were represented and received donations.

"The programme gave an accurate and sensitive portrayal of BPAG's front-line work with rough sleepers.

"It would have been unrealistic to expect his type of programme to analyse and dissect social and economic conditions in North Devon because they are so complex.

"There are local organisations that work very hard, effectively and innovatively to produce solutions for the problems out there."

Also responding to Mr Harvey's criticism, Channel 4 spokesperson, Rachel Davidson, told the Gazette: "To give viewers a better understanding of the kinds of tough social issues local communities all over the country face, the series pulls no punches in showing the reality of what life can be like in whatever area the programme is filmed. By its very nature this will therefore be far from a tourist brochure portrayal.

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