In many respects, post-reality TV documentary—like reality TV before it—goes out of its way to conceal the class differences between those who are making the programmes and those who feature in them. Like tabloid newspapers, the scripts impersonate a working-class vernacular. Typically, the voice-over plays an important role in this bid to present the programme to working-class viewers as if it has been produced by a group of peers. The voice-over will not now be the voice of the actual programme makers. If they are heard at all, these voices will only be heard in the off-screen prompts and questions put to the working-class participants. In the case of Benefits Street, the voice-over was performed by actor Tony Hirst, who has recently left the Coronation Street cast. Hirst’s accent is working class, northern; his tone—perfectly in keeping with the supposedly “serious yet humorous” register of the post-reality TV documentary—is no-nonsense and wry. Tellingly, it was reported that the voice-over had been first offered to Brummie comedian Frank Skinner, who turned it down.
“Classless broadcasting: Benefits Street | New Humanist” at