Breadline Britain: 1983 to 2013

How has the experience of poverty changed over the last thirty years? The following three short videos, drawing on the ITV Breadline Britain programmes filmed in 1983, 1991 and 2013 and the PSE website videos from 2011 and 2012, provide a unique insight into how the experience of poverty has changed - or not - over this period. There are three more short videos on Breadline Britain: going without. The PSE team would like to thank ITV for their generous permission to use extracts from these Breadline Britain series.

In 1983, ITV broadcast the landmark four-part series on poverty, Breadline Britain.This series established a new way of measuring of poverty based on the public’s perception of needs and conducted the Breadline Britain 1983 survey to establish how many people could not afford the necessities identified by the public. The series followed seven families, representative of the groups most vulnerable to poverty, providing an intimate portrait of their lives. Transcripts of the four programmes can be downloaded (see the bottom of this page); please credit LWT for any use.

ITV updated the 1983 series in 1991 with a six-part series, Breadline Britain in the 1990s. This series, again, measured poverty based on the minimum standards set by the public, based on the Breadline Britain 1990 survey, and followed seven new families vulnerable to poverty. Transcripts of the six programmes can downloaded (see the bottom of this page); please credit LWT with any use.

And in March 2013, ITV broadcast Breadline Britain, a special edition of their weekly current affairs series, Tonight, based on the results of the 2012 PSE survey and filmed with four families in poverty. During this thirty year period, the UK’s wealth has nearly doubled while poverty has risen from 14% to 30% (see Going backwards). 


Breadline Britain: going without presents a further three videos on House and Home, Food and clothing and Social Leisure activities exploring at what it means to go without the necessities defined, at the time of filming, by the public. All six videos were produced and directed by Gabi Kent.

An examination of the root cause of this upward trend in poverty in a richer Britain can be found in Breadline Britain: the rise of mass poverty by Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack (Oneworld, 2015). Joanna Mack was the Producer/ Director on the first Breadline Britain series and the series editor of Breadline Britain in the 1990s and Stewart Lansley was the researcher of the first series and Producer/Director of the 1990 series.


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