Bargain Brits on Benefits is a new TV documentary on Channel 5. It shows how individuals across the nation save a lot of money by making small changes. By sharing their thrifty ways, you can too save a fortune! Some of you may have already seen me on the money-saving show in Season 1 Episode 3. If not, you can still watch me here on Channel 5. You may have read about my me in the news: Island Echo & Isle of Wight County Press.
For those who don’t already know me, I’m Lei also known as The Thrifty Island Girl. If you’d like to know a bit more about me, find out here.
My savvy tips as seen on Bargain Brits on Benefits:
The pink egg
Free gas and electric
I was with an energy supplier that offered of £50 credit to both the person who referred and the person switching . I’ve since changed my energy supplier to Avro, since they are a lot cheaper; however they don’t offer referral credit. I might switch my energy provider to one that has a refer a friend scheme again, if I they offer cheaper rates.
They’ve filmed me showing other ways to cut my energy bills, but unfortunately have edited it out. But luckily I’ve written an article about it: How to max your radiators efficiency with foil!
You might want to check out my 30 Top tips to keep warm this winter & save money
Charity shop shopping
The charity shop I was filmed in was Dress for Less in Newport, Isle of Wight. On the show it looked like I’ve bought the Michael Kors shoes, but I didn’t. They tried to make it look like I’ve purchased it; oh well that’s reality TV for you.
My experience filming Bargain Brits on Benefits:
The bits I did enjoy about filming Bargain Brits on Benefits:
It was a rollercoaster of emotions when filming for the show. I was contacted by Rebecca Collins and asked whether I’d like to take part on this show. My experience with her was very positive and communicating with her was easy, so I can’t fault her! Of course I was nervous and excited, as it was my first time filming . I’ve been an extra in The Beast Must Die, but was very different to this!
Filming took 3 full days. Although a lot that was filmed wasn’t used in the episode I was featured in. Some parts of this process were fun, but very exhausting!
There wasn’t much of a break in-between to rest or eat, to the point I’d get “hangry”. I’m very thankful that they got me to speak to Isle of Wight Radio, as I’ve never done it before. Listen to my part on the radio & read the article here. The’ve filmed me on the phone with IoW Radio, but it wasn’t shown. Whether they’ll show it on another episode, I don’t know.
Marisa has been great, notifying me to let me know when my part will be aired on Channel 5. She’s also sent me a phone to borrow and record some footage. My IPhone X at the time suddenly broke. Recording on the Iphone 6 that I’ve borrowed from my bestie until the IPhone 12 Pro Max was out, was hopeless. The picture quality was very poor. But was grateful, as a crap phone is better than no phone, right?
Thanks to my best friend Isma, who came down to the island from Northampton to visit & support me, as well as take part in the show. I had to “fly her out”, but it was totally worth it!
Though there were things I wasn’t happy about, I wanted to talk about all the positives first.
The bits I didn’t like:
When filming with any production company, you’ll always have to sign a contract. However I didn’t like that ITN Productions gave me the contract after the second day of filming, rather than before any filming took place. I was given the forms by Charlie, who claimed that they were ONLY consent forms for filming, “NOT a contract”. Looking through the document, the first thing I saw was a list of terms. Followed by a signature field at the end. Common I’m not dumb! Though I’m a UCL masters graduate, you don’t have to be a genius to realize that it IS a contract! They’ve kept saying that it wasn’t a contract!
Anyways I took my time to read the contract and noticed that it was JUST benefiting ITN and not me as well. I still have the contract that I made all the annotations on, before negotiating the contract with ITN Productions.
Cheeky that they have given the forms out so late. They could have sent them earlier via email. If I knew about these terms, I’d prearrange for any costs incurred during filming, such as lunches, parking tickets and mileage. Because nothing was prearranged, I wasn’t able to claim costs back.
After lots of calls and emails back and forth, we came to an agreement. A part has been removed from the contract, that I wasn’t happy with. Some parts have been agreed via email and WhatsApp (I’ve asked things to be in writing, to cover myself!).
I totally understand that each household filmed only got about 15minutes on the show Bargain Brits on Benefits. However they’ve verbally agreed that they’ll mention my money-saving blog The Thrifty Island Girl in the show during the process. I agreed to take part in the show to raise awareness that different people are on benefits due to various circumstances. Also to share my thrifty tips and tricks with others to help as many people as possible to cut costs to improve their finances, no matter what budget they are on. Plus possibly live a little bit more sustainable!
By sharing my blog, people would be able to find out why I use an Eco-Egg, how I practically didn’t have to pay for my energy bills and how buying & reselling from charity shops isn’t just helping the charity shops fund their amazing causes! When I’m buying to resell from charity shops, it’s helping me put a roof over Yasmin & my head and food on the table. Doing so also protects our planet, because someone will reuse & recycle the items.
Charity shops often hold fill a bag for £1 / £3 events to get rid of excess stock. During these times I bulk buy. I’ve spoken about it to explain how I get items for 15p, but it’s been edited out. The show doesn’t explain how I got the items so cheap. If charity shops still have excess after the event, they then get sold to the ragman for very little money. The ragman then sells the items on to merchants. The merchant may sell them to different poorer countries to make a profit or recycle it to make something new. That’s still good as it’s kinder to the environment. Nevertheless if a charity doesn’t use a ragman, items often get thrown away and will potentially land on landfills.
I’ve managed to get in contact with a few that have appeared on the show from Season 1 Episode 1-3. They too said they’ve been heavily edited and promised that their websites or pages will be promoted, just to find out that it hasn’t! I’ll share their websites or pages with you, that are interested to learn their savvy ways to save money. If they hadn’t make the promise, I would have been fine with them not including my blog.
Lots of unused footage
As mentioned above, they have filmed me getting in contact with Isle of Wight radio. I’m not sure why they’ve not put a short clip of it on the episode.
They’ve also filmed me showing how to save money on energy bills, by filming me doing an energy switch for another friend. I was doing the calculation part step by step. It showed what to watch out for when shopping for a new, cheaper energy provider. As you know that wasn’t aired…
I’ve been asked to film myself shopping using a phone camera, which I did but none of it was shown.
They’ve filmed my DIY radiator reflectors that I’ve made to boosts efficiency of my radiators and reduce fuel consumption. That too wasn’t shown. Not to worry, I’ve written an article about it: How to max your radiators efficiency with foil!
I thought they may show it on another episode, but I doubt it because others on the show such as Juanita have told me that ITN told her that she would get featured again to show unseen parts. The day when she meant to be featured again, ITN Productions changed their mind, according to the beautiful Juanita.
After speaking to someone via a call from ITN they have admitted that their communication was poor and that it was their fault that they haven’t communicated properly with us. They said that they will be working on improving their communication and hold a meeting about it. Knowing that, makes me feel a lot better. Juanita was now featured a second time as promised on episode 5. The person I’ve spoken to did admit that the contract was in fact a contract and not “just a consent form to be on the show”. After the informative talk with ITN, it has made me feel a lot better!
Chubbier on TV
Isma said, on camera people always gain 10 pounds from her experience doing some filming when she was younger. I thought it couldn’t add that much. When I saw myself on the show, I was shocked how chubby I looked, but thats not ITN’s fault.
Would I take part in another show?
Yes, I’d definitely take part in another TV show if the opportunity arises. However I’d ask for the contract before any filming starts, just to see whether the particular show would be right for me. That way I can still opt out before any filming takes place. Thought I had some negative experiences with ITN Productions, there were a lot of good things about this filming experience too! Since it was my first time doing any filming for TV, I didn’t know what questions to ask during my interview. This experience, now equipped me with the knowledge I didn’t have previously for any future filming, if I get the chance again.
This is my own experience with ITN Productions that doesn’t mean that everyone has the same experience with them as me. I don’t know what other production companies are like and therefore I won’t be able to comment on them.
New friends made from the show Bargain Brits on Benefits:
After watching the docushow, I’ve reached out to the others that were on the show. I’ve found out about their experiences, how they like to save a fortune and seen their blogs and pages. Tasha who was on the show too, created a Facebook group called Bargain Brits on Benefits from Channel 5, for all of you that would like to find out about their experiences filming with ITN Productions.
Tasha did a skill trade and fixed Victor’s trousers, not hoodie. On the show they claimed it was a hoodie… Find Tasha and they unique creations on fb: Sew Much Fabric, Sew Little Time.
Tony & Sue is the couple that is able to create meals for 2 under £4, as Sue has 30+ years experience as a chef! Check out their blog Eat Well on UC.
John Cossham the freegan, who will be featured in episode 6 of the show, enjoys living a green lifestyle and can be found on fb as Compost John.
Roxy Theobald has done some filming for the show, but won’t be featured at all apparently due to change of brief.
Richie & Hayley from S1 E2 have been promised by ITN that their Youtube channel The Simpson Jamieson Family showing their shopping hauls and bargain hunts would be featured, but was never mentioned on the show.
Juanita the designer lover from the 2nd episode has also got a fb page: Motives & Me UK, VIP Lifestyle