Ian Hislop’s Workers and Shirkers

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This is a bit of a belated post. I made a film with Ian Hislop for Wingspan Productions and BBC2 a while back about the history of unemployment benefits, “Workers or Shirkers: Ian Hislop’s Victorian Benefits,” mostly looking at Victorian material.

The interview with Iain Duncan Smith went viral because he “cried” on camera – you can judge the sincerity of the tears for yourself. For this film, I dived deep in libraries to find visually engaging moments from a complex history – like the black beggar from the Ludgate Circus in eighteenth century London, and the absorbing articles byBritain’s first undercover reporter, James Greenwood, brought to life in the spectacular Linley Sanborne House in Kensington… not forgetting the first female minister in Britain, Margaret Bondfield. I and the DOP Jamie Gramston developed a very fluid PTC style, choreographing the present’s moves to take advantage of atmospheric natural light effects.