Anger as The Scheme goes nationwide

PLANS to broadcast a controversial documentary following the residents on a Scottish housing estate across the UK tomorrow have been condemned by local residents and politicians.

Locals in Kilmarnock are planning to fight claims that TV programme The Scheme is a fair representation of the area as the controversial series is broadcast across the UK this week.

The programme be shown on BBC1 tomorrow evening in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, complete with subtitles included for television viewers who may struggle understand the Scottish accents.

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But the the decision to network the show, which proved a surprise ratings hit for BBC Scotland, has provoked a new backlash from community representatives who claim showing the programme will "reinforce prejudices" of Scottish society.

Politicians are angry about the portrayal of Onthank in the documentary, claiming residents were lied to by the corporation about how they would be presented and "tricked" into appearing.

SNP MSP for Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley Willie Coffey said: "There is a lot of work taking place to regenerate north-west Kilmarnock and there is a strong community spirit that is addressing the problems highlighted by The Scheme, but the BBC have repeatedly chosen not to display the communities successes in favour of glamorising the chaotic lifestyles of a few and patronising the people of Kilmarnock."

The show, which depicts apparent drug-taking, alcoholism, street drinking and violence, became an instant hit.

It later received further publicity after the airing of the final two episodes had to be postponed in Scotland after a member of the cast was arrested.

But this image of Onthank is not welcome, and local councillors are launching initiatives to counteract the negative picture they believe will be compounded when the show airs outside Scotland.

Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire council, said the corporation had picked on "vulnerable people".

"Showing it in England will reinforce prejudices," he said. "The BBC are trying to say this a cross-section of the community of Onthank, but it doesn't bear any resemblance to the Onthank I know.

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"There are plenty of good news stories, it's shameful to portray it as a handful of people who were duped into co-operating with the BBC."

He said publicising "positive cultural images" would help provide a balance to the image of crime and drug-addiction.

Mr Reid added: "A lot of young people are absolutely disgusted at the way they are being portrayed and their community is being portrayed.

"We are promoting positive cultural images, doing a lot more community activities and we're looking at regeneration at some of the buildings."

The BBC spokesperson said: "It was filmed in north-west Kilmarnock but it has struck a chord with the audience because it is real lives which reflect issues relevant not only in Kilmarnock but across Scotland and the UK."

Drug scene

The most controversial scenes in The Scheme include James McMurray apparently injecting himself with heroin in his mother's house. He also boasts of taking 30 diazepam tablets and falls into a seemingly drug-induced stupor.

Elsewhere, viewers see participants discuss battles with alcoholism, abortion and crime.

Dayna McLaughlin, who gained notoriety over her relationship with partner Marvin was jailed last year for breaking a court order to stay off drugs. Stephen McMurray was also jailed for mugging.