Benefits Street's Dee Kelly says documentary 'ripped apart' her life

Amy Johnson
·2 min read
Deirdre Kelly, known as White Dee speaks at a Policy Exchange fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference on September 29, 2014 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Deirdre Kelly, known as White Dee speaks at a Policy Exchange fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference on September 29, 2014 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Benefits Street's Dee Kelly has said the programme "ripped [her] old life apart" after it aired seven years ago. 

The residents of James Turner Street in the Winson Green area of Birmingham were thrust into the limelight due to the Channel 4 show, which attracted hundreds of complaints Ofcom. 

Concerns raised were raised over the negative portrayal of those in receipt of benefits, however, complaints weren't upheld by the broadcasting regulator. 

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Kelly, who was referred to as 'White Dee' on the show, became one of the documentary's breakout stars but no longer lives on the road as she's relocated to Handsworth.

Deirdre Kelly known locally as White Dee walks along James Turner Street in Birmingham. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Deirdre Kelly known locally as White Dee walks along James Turner Street in Birmingham. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

"The show ripped apart my life at the time," she told Birmingham Live. "It changed my life forever and it destroyed the James Turner Street I knew before the show."

"I don't keep in touch with any of the characters featured in the show and in some cases that is a real shame."

Other residents seen on the series included James Clarke aka Fungi, who died in 2019, Black Dee, real name Samora Roberts and the 50p man, Stephen Smith. 

Media appearances and opportunities arose in the aftermath for Kelly, who described it as a "crazy time". 

Edele Lynch and Dee Kelly are evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house at Elstree Studios on September 12, 2014 in Borehamwood, England.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Edele Lynch and Dee Kelly are evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house at Elstree Studios on September 12, 2014 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

"My life was turned upside down and I just wasn't expecting it. Benefits Street caused such a storm and the people in James Turner Street were shocked by it and totally overwhelmed," she said. 

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The mother-of-two appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2014, which she says changed negative opinions toward her as the public "warmed" to her.

The publication reports Kelly now earns an income through interviews, guest speaker events and other media work. 

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