The Mighty Redcar

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The Mighty Redcar
The Mighty Redcar titlescreen.png
Created byBBC2
Directed byDan Dewsbury , Stuart Bernard , Jonny Ashton
Narrated byMadison Cooper
Opening themeFriday Afternoons ("Cuckoo")
ComposerMat Davidson
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes4
Executive producerJohn Douglas
Production locationRedcar
EditorsSamuel Sananta , Sam Bergson, Reva Childs
Camera setupDan Dewsbury
Running time4 × 45 mins
Production company72 Films
Original networkBBC Two
Original release6 September (2018-09-06) –
27 September 2018 (2018-09-27)
External links
72 Films

The Mighty Redcar is a 2018 British documentary series first aired on BBC Two. Marketed by the BBC as a "real-life soap opera", the four part series focuses on young people from the town of Redcar and nearby Grangetown, an area with high unemployment following the 2015 closure of SSI Redcar steelworks. The show was praised for its portrayal of the area and for avoiding the poverty porn stereotypes associated with similar documentaries.


The now-closed blast furnace at Redcar steelworks, seen in operation in 2005.

Like many former industrial areas in the UK, Redcar – formerly a popular seaside resort and a centre for steel and chemical production – has seen a downturn in its fortunes following deindustrialisation and now suffers from deprivation. Following the closure of the steelworks in 2015, which was a significant employer in the town, Redcar attracted a number of news crews and documentary makers, including a 50-day series of reportage from Panorama. The tone of the Panorama documentary and other reports was negative and pessimistic, and the BBC wanted a more optimistic documentary to balance it and to shine a light on the under-represented North East of England. They commissioned filmmaker Dan Dewsbury to produce a series about life in the town, focusing on the next generation.[1][2]


Redcar seafront. The crew lived in the area for the duration of the shoot.

Filming began in November 2016, with Dewsbury and the crew moving to Redcar in February 2017 and living for nine months in the town above a fish and chips shop. Half of the crew was local – the drone photography was by a former Redcar steelworker Lee Bullock and Madison Cooper, a 17-year-old student, provides the voiceover.[1][2]

The documentary makers interviewed around 400 people for the series. After facing initial reluctance from locals, who worried that the show would depict locals in a negative light like Benefits Street (the second series of which was filmed in nearby Stockton-on-Tees), the crew were able to persuade them that it would not insult the Redcar residents.[1][3]

Episode list[edit]

No. Title Air date
1"Episode 1"6 September 2018 (2018-09-06)
The first episode introduces James, Dylan and Kaitlyn. James, who has no GCSEs and whose father is in prison, is mentored by a local businessman who finds him work as a landscaper. Dylan, an aspiring hiphop musician, tries to get a record deal. Kaitlyn wants to go into acting, and as the school prom approaches her mother Kat is working three jobs to pay for her to attend RADA drama school.[4]
2"Episode 2"13 September 2018 (2018-09-13)
James is arrested on suspicion of theft, but denies the allegation. With his mentor's help, he gets an apprenticeship at a call centre. With money tight, Kat and Kaitlyn find themselves having to move house yet again, but Kaitlyn triumphs in her GCSEs. Netball player Safy wins a 90% scholarship at a private sports college, but her mother finds paying the remaining 10% a struggle. A witness comes forward, and James admits to the theft – he is sentenced to community service and loses his apprenticeship.[5]
3"Episode 3"20 September 2018 (2018-09-20)
The town has come together to raise money for Safy’s school fees but is it enough? Bean must choose between his first love and the chance of a new life away from Redcar, and James gets one final chance to change his life around.
4"Episode 4"27 September 2018 (2018-09-27)
Boris Johnson loving activist Jade is battling to win the hearts and minds of the predominantly Labour town. Amber, living out of her car, struggles to keep her job as nurse and 16 year old Billy realises that working for a living might not be for him.


The Mighty Redcar was well received by critics.[6][7] Several praised its depiction of the people of Redcar, with Chitra Ramaswamy of The Guardian calling it "the antidote to Benefits Street, Born Famous or any of the other vile caricatures that make up the objectionable genre of poverty porn",[8] Carol Midgley of The Times saying it "could have been dreadful and patronising, but it was rather wonderful",[9] and the reviewer for The Northern Echo noting "it was warm, moving and a refreshing change to see such an honest, but uplifting depiction of life for young people in the North-East".[10]

Local people were also generally positive about the series, although several Redcar residents criticised the decision to film much of the show in Grangetown; although part of the Redcar and Cleveland district, it is separate from the town and lies closer to Middlesbrough.[6][10][11]

The programme won the Royal Television Society Award for ‘Best Factual Programme’ 2019 and was nominated for a BAFTA in the Television Awards for 'Best Cinematography'. It was nominated for'Best Original Programme' at the 2019 Broadcast Awards.

The camera team won the Guild of Television and Film Award for 'Best Cinematography' 2019.

In late 2019 the camera team won the award for ‘Best Factual Cinematography’ at the Royal Television Society Craft Awards beating competition which included David Attenborough’s ‘Dynasties’ series.


  1. ^ a b c Robson, Dave (23 August 2018). "'I hope people feel it's a fair portrayal': TV director on what to expect from The Mighty Redcar". Teesside Gazette. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b Dewsbury, Dan (6 September 2018). "Being working class is something to be proud of: filming The Mighty Redcar". BBC. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  3. ^ Robson, Dave (4 September 2018). "How The Mighty Redcar is latest adventure for this devoted mam and daughter". Teesside Gazette. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  4. ^ "The Mighty Redcar, Series 1, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  5. ^ "The Mighty Redcar, Series 1, Episode 2". BBC. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b Huntley, David (7 September 2018). "'It was rather wonderful': What the national media thought of The Mighty Redcar". Teesside Gazette. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  7. ^ Love, Laura (14 September 2018). "'The antidote to poverty porn': Reviews of The Mighty Redcar episode 2". Teesside Gazette. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  8. ^ Ramaswamy, Chitra (13 September 2018). "The Mighty Redcar review – proper heartwarming film-making". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  9. ^ Midgley, Carol (7 September 2018). "TV review: Press; The Mighty Redcar". The Times. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  10. ^ a b "The Mighty Redcar: Review – a moving depiction of town's struggles". The Northern Echo. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  11. ^ Copeland, Alexa (7 September 2018). "The Mighty Redcar - 'Poverty porn' or a picture of hope?". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 14 September 2018.

External links[edit]