Tower Block of Commons
About the Show
Politicians swap their comfortable homes and move into council estates across the country, encountering first-hand the reality of residents' lives
Series 1 Summary
Four MPs leave behind the splendour of Westminster and their comfortable homes for eight days and nights to live in council tower blocks estates in some of Britain's most deprived neighbourhoods. They come face-to-face with issues affecting the residents' lives, including gangs, immigration, drug addiction, poverty, crime and unemployment.
After a year of political crises, with the expenses scandal, financial meltdown, rising unemployment and threatened cuts in public spending, a group of MPs experience the reality of life for many people up and down the country.
In this new four-part series the MPs leave Westminster and their comfortable homes to live for eight days and nights in tower blocks on different council estates in some of Britain's most deprived neighbourhoods. They will be living alongside and meeting a wide range of residents on the estates and coming face-to-face with issues that affect their lives: including gangs, immigration, drug addiction, poverty, crime, housing and unemployment.
Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten experiences the dire housing conditions of Goresbrook Village in Barking and meets the residents disenchanted with mainstream politicians who have turned to the BNP. But he's upset when verbally attacked by local youths.
Conservative Tim Loughton finds out first-hand what some residents really think of politicians on the gang-divided Newtown estate in Birmingham.
Austin Mitchell and his wife Linda are shocked by poor living conditions and a drug problem on the Orchard Park estate in Hull.
And former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith learns a thing or two on the Carpenters estate in Stratford, East London.
How do the MPs cope with such dramatically different living conditions? And will their experiences change their views on poverty, social exclusion, or how to find political solutions for the people and problems they meet?
The politicians are challenged to live on benefits and get a real insight into how low-income families cope day-to-day.
Without their usual generous expense accounts and with no staff to delegate to, some of the MPs struggle. There's a new MP too, as Conservative Nadine Dorries takes the place of Iain Duncan Smith. Having grown up on a council estate herself, Nadine initially thinks life on the South Acton estate in west London is easier than when she was a child. But she faces a rude awakening.
On Hull's Orchard Park estate, Labour veteran Austin Mitchell isn't keen to survive on benefits, but agrees to take on the child-care responsibilities of his host, unemployed chef Dave. And Austin's wife Linda throws a dinner party, but the residents seem unimpressed.
Tory Tim Loughton is taken aback when he moves in with a family of four (plus two dogs) living in a cramped one bedroom flat on Birmingham's Newtown estate, .
And in Barking's Goresbrook estate, Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten, an only child, finds moving into a household with five children and four cats a shock.
The politicians stay with people who need their help. But while some of the MPs relish the chance to get involved, others are less keen to roll up their sleeves.
In west London's racially-divided South Acton estate, Tory MP Nadine Dorries finds herself stuck in the middle as she tries to create harmony between residents and worshippers at a local mosque.
Helping residents of the Goresbrook estate in Barking demand answers from the council about their crumbling tower blocks, Lib Dem Mark Oaten gets caught up as police vans swoop to break up a disturbance.
In Hull, Labour veteran Austin Mitchell is asked to help find funding for a local youth project that works with hard-to-reach kids, some of whom are well-known to the police.
Tory Tim Loughton's host Adrian, feels trapped inside his home through fear of the gangs on the Newtown estate in Birmingham. Tim suggests a football match to give local kids something to do and to keep them away from a life of gangs and drugs. Later on, Tim faces a late night meeting with gang members.
In the final programme the MPs try to complete the challenges they set themselves. And as they return to their own comfortable lives, will all of them keep the promises they made to help the residents further?
Tower Block of Commons synopsis
Politicians swap their comfortable homes and move into council estates across the country, encountering first-hand the reality of residents' livesEpisode Guide >