A new TV series starring the government’s high street tsar Mary Portas will do little more than humiliate the businesses featured, claim angry retail leaders.
Despite several bodies involved in the government-funded high street rescue calling for the Channel 4 series to be canned, The Grocer has learned the screening of Mary Queen of the High Street will go ahead as planned on 7 May.
“This is going to go down like a lead balloon with businesses,” said one leading source. “Our understanding is that the town teams will come out of it looking pretty bad. They’ve been made to look stupid as it’s all about providing entertainment.”
Another added: “The show should not have been allowed to happen. We believe it is in very poor taste when shops are closing up and down the country.”
As well as giving £100,000 each to the Portas Pilots, the government has spent more than £10m providing support to other towns involved in the process.
One of towns featured in the series is Margate, where, as The Grocer reported last year, members of the town team quit en masse in a row over the show.
Robin Vaughan-Lyons, former chairman of the Margate town team, said he had been left “devastated” by events and accused TV crews of deliberately trying to stoke disagreements.
The Portas camp this week strongly denied that the show, which focuses on a sample of the 27 towns given Portas Pilot status, was more interested in ghoulish entertainment than high street regeneration.
“The series concentrates on an element of the work that Mary has been involved with,” said a spokeswoman. “It is in no way meant to be a comprehensive picture of all the work she is doing.”