ONHalfway through Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits (Channel 4), the first of a three-part documentary series documenting the impact of replacing multiple separate benefits with the consolidated payment referred to as Universal Credit (UC), you can honestly go crazy.

Firstly, there was the basic fact that in a system that people already live by hand or, if they are lucky, paycheck paychecks are paid (because different modern forms of employment, fact fans, do nothing as retro as they do keep you out of poverty! We hear it for progress!), switching to UC leaves them for the first five weeks without pay. If you are able to live without income for five weeks, you are in luck. And if you can not imagine being in the opposite position – if you can not imagine not even being in reach of that position or knowing another person who is ashamed and you want a one prominent position of your choice in the closet, whenever you feel like it? You are only looking for your variety. Among the shots of Nathan chasing Hartlepool with his dog in the fields to supplement the hunger rations he and his girlfriend are taking while waiting for their money, footage is what the working class understands.

Second, in England there is a sight that in 2019 a man hunts for rabbits and squirrels to supplement his aforementioned hunger rations. I have to say, when I type, I feel no less uncomplicated.

Then there is the sight of people trying to record the compulsory 35 hours of job search to qualify for their loan, in a place where two hours would be enough to pinpoint every corner and all at once – fruitlessly to find every job. "There used to be the chicken factory," recalls a middle-aged woman. "There used to be the cake factory." Not anymore.

There is a recommendation from the job center that Nathan will become an IT technician. "But I can not read or write!", He emphasizes not unreasonable.

It goes on and on, the madness. And it is crazy. Tested beyond endurance, the subjects of the documentary often shout out the person who provides the latest twist in the history of any advantages. Did you, like Terri, miss your telephone interview with a job coach because the lines were busy? Sanctioned Even more delay, even less money. You miss an appointment like Nathan because you're illiterate and not too good at managing life. Sanctioned Need a high-protein (ie, expensive) diet that your doctor ordered because it looks like your cancer is back, like Nathan's mother Tracey? You are not entitled to anything. Try the local authority. You have? Well.

Incidentally, Tracey is also the caregiver of her husband, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. It will end if it has not already done so, saving the NHS a fortune. She and her daughter Tamsyn desperately want Tamsyn not to end up with the unemployed, hoping her talent for drumming will save her. It is the slimmest thread.

It is an intrepid series in which a group of people who are not immediately sympathetic can take the balls as a subject. This is the tantalizing and manipulative option that is always open to a documentary filmmaker, recording the impact of the new. intransigent system and implicitly ask: how much of its dysfunction depends on incompetence and how much is actually intended? Not that it's important for David, who is said to be late on Friday, on the pay phone outside of the grocery store he came to, that he must complete a five-day job search before he can claim money. "I need something to survive," he sobbed in panic. "My cabinets are empty, I'm 40, I'm partially blind." He can not wear contact lenses that help his remaining vision long enough to get busy. His doctor has told many people this. "But he was defeated."

Fine and honest programming, though it is so, I am beginning to believe that for any program like this, there should be a legal requirement for life to be shown at a sharp end. Deadly points are tracked by the same team that is asking for answers. Otherwise, it feels like preaching to the choir. Those responsible will not sit and watch to see how their big ideas work. We know that there is no limit to the evidence they will ignore. The question becomes what television can do in desperate times to keep the rich and rich rich, but morally bankrupt.