How to describe this pitilessly bleak new series tracking life on Scunthorpe’s Westcliff estate? ‘Shameless’ with added despair? The ‘Brass Eye’ Cowsick estate sketch as reimagined by Ken Loach? An insight into what happens when you remove economic opportunity from a community?
Scunthorpe used to be underpinned by its steelworks but most of the 27,000 staff there have been laid off. People like Dean – who worked in the steelworks for years – are now sustained by benefits and a thriving black economy. Tracy shoplifts to order and gives the odd blow job when times are particularly tight. Kids like Connor don’t see the point of school because it leads nowhere. And no one sees any real prospect of change.
It’s possible that we’re seeing only the most extreme cases in this film and it would be interesting to explore examples of state intervention in Westcliff beyond just law enforcement. But something is very wrong on a structural level here and it’s hard not to suspect that any solutions will lie well beyond the punitive knee-jerking of our current crop of politicians.