Where Benefits Street cast are now – from £50k reality show gig to cocaine bust, catwalk modelling and tragic deaths | The Sun
IT was the infamous show that gave viewers a no holds barred look at life on the breadline for residents on an ordinary Birmingham street.
And Benefits Street fans were stunned to see its most well-known face, Deirdre Kelly, looking unrecognisable as she joined them for a night out in the city.
The 50-year-old star looked delighted as she stopped for photos, while showing off a lighter head of hair than her usual dark brown look.
She posed outside of a pub in another snap, signalling a sign that read 'White Dee from Benefit Street.'
But what happened next to her co-stars?
From arrests to tragic deaths, we take a look at what the residents of James Turner Street did after the show wrapped up in 2015.
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After the show aired, Dee went on to appear on TV debates and was asked to speak at the Conservative Party conference.
In 2014, she appeared on Celebrity Big Brother, for which she claims she was paid around £50,000.
She even appeared on The Jeremy Kyle Show before it was axed to reveal how fame didn't make her rich – and admitted she tried to kill herself.
She revealed on the show she’d suffered vile trolling about her mixed-race kids, Caitlin and Gerrard.
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She said: "I've never, ever experienced any racial abuse in my life until… [the show started].
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"And some of the threats aimed at me, and some of my children because of their colour, was disgusting."
Dee later moved out of James Turner Street to nearby Handsworth, which she says is one of her biggest regrets.
She previously said: "The show ripped apart my life at the time.
"It changed my life forever and it destroyed the James Turner Street I knew before the show."
The mum-of-two told BirminghamLive: "We were just left to deal with the fallout.”
Channel 4 dispute the claims, saying: "Psychological support was offered to all those featured in the series throughout the filming, during transmission and beyond."
Love Productions were contacted for comment but did not respond to the publication's requests.
Samora Roberts – also known as Black Dee – was jailed for seven years in January 2016 for possessing live ammunition and crack cocaine with intent to supply.
But that wasn’t the first time the 37-year-old had been in trouble with police.
She was originally arrested in June 2013 when 38-calibre Smith and Wesson cartridges were found during police raids on her home.
The bullets were stashed in a shoe inside a laundry basket at her home.
Samora was one of the first Benefits Street residents to hit out at Channel 4 producers for “exploiting” locals.
She had a public spat with former pal White Dee, claiming she was a “sell-out” for appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.
Smoggy AKA 50p Man
Door-to-door salesman Smoggy, real name Stephen Smith, became affectionately known as “50p Man” after selling cut-price household wares to the residents of Benefits Street.
His entrepreneurial spirit captured the attention of millionaire Charlie Mullins, who offered him a £10,000 deal to open a 50p discount store to rival Poundland.
Unfortunately, they fell out and the business venture did not happen.
Charlie claimed Smoggy could have become a millionaire and blamed “bad advice from people around him” for the deal falling through.
Stephen previously spent four months in Birmingham’s Winson Green prison in 2010.
Sherrell Dillion, known as SB, was seen on the show trying to launch her modelling career while being a single mum-of-two – and she actually managed it.
Sherrell has modelled all over the world, and even appeared in a Big Narstie music video.
Last year, she told Birmingham Live: "I received some really good exposure from my appearance on Benefits Street. I think people could see I was doing my best as a single mum trying to forge out a career in modelling.
"It took a lot of hard work and dedication but I did get my break and before lockdown I was travelling abroad carrying out modelling assignments.
"I have modelled in London, Paris and Milan. I modelled at London Pacific Fashion Week and was a model at the Black Hair Awards which was one of my favourite jobs.
"Before lockdown I also appeared in several music videos including a video with rapper Big Narstie. It was so much fun.”
James ‘Fungi’ Clarke
Former crack cocaine addict James ‘Fungi’ Clarke moved to Cardiff to escape the attention he received after Benefits Street aired.
Still battling booze and drug addictions, a fan later paid £12,000 for him to go to rehab.
James signed with agent Barry Tomes, who had also represented White Dee, and took part in a magazine shoot to show off his new look.
However, Barry ended their professional relationship three months later saying James had “disappeared off the planet”.
Then, tragically, on July 1, 2019, it was reported James had died of a heart attack at the age of 50, apparently triggered by a drug overdose.
He had been living in a house for recovering drug addicts in Birmingham in his final months, and downing up to five litres of cider a day.
Fellow star Lee Nutley was also found dead in October 2016.
His body was discovered by an ambulance crew at a home in Stockton, where the second series of the programme was filmed.
Lee suffered a number of health issues in the years leading up to his death, including epilepsy and heroin addiction, but was believed to have been trying to get his life back together.
Mark Thomas and Becky Howe
Mark Thomas, 29, had never held down a full-time job and got in trouble after bragging about fiddling his benefits.
But a month after filming finished, he got a job as a manual labourer and he and partner Becky Howe, also 29, stopped claiming.
They and their young children moved away after the show aired, but did not share their new address with their neighbours.
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In 2019, neighbour Anna Korzen said: “They seemed to enjoy the attention at first but I think it got too much for them.
“They left six months ago but didn’t say where to.”
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