Cast your mind back to earlier this year. A story dominated the press regarding a Grandmother who had claimed she was in possession of a winning Euromillions lottery ticket. The Grandmother in question alleged that the ticket itself had found its way into a washing machine and as a result of being washed along with her jeans; had become illegible. Camelot were quick to dismiss the woman's claims that she was a winner and Ms Hinte found herself splashed across the tabloids alongside headlines that read Gran in £33m Lotto riddle 'sent topless selfie to trucker then asked for cash' and Gran who falsely claimed a £33m jackpot splashes out on a Jacuzzi -- and you're paying for it.
The latter headline being the one of the main focus points of the show I watched yesterday evening. Entitled On Benefits: Britain's Most Hated woman, Ms Hinte is seemingly unapologetic regarding the benefits she receives.
A show that is clearly designed to stir up anger and emotions amongst its audience, I simply could not believe my eyes and my ears while watching the hour long blood boiling documentary. So much so, I've had to put finger to keyboard and document my thoughts.
I found myself shouting at the TV so much, I wouldn't have looked out of place on Channel 4's Gogglebox. The television nearly went through the window as a result of my incandescent rage at one point.
It's not only Ms Hinte who has taken part in this programme (although considering her recent found fame I'm surprised she didn't get asked to star in another Channel 5 series - Celebrity Big Brother; I think she'd fit in well there). The documentary also takes a look at other individuals in receipt of benefits.
Suzanne Hinte wants to put across her version of events with regards to LottoGate. Adopting a softly spoken voice for this bit she, in her own words tells the camera how she "entered her jeans pocket" (surely you just say you stuck your hand in?) and pulled out what she thought was dried up pieces of tissue. It transpires this was a lottery ticket and the rest as they say is history. This soon catapulted her to notoriety for all the wrong reasons.
Keen to show off her recently purchased Vauxhall Astra Limited Edition Sport Coupe (leased and paid for through her monthly benefits allowance which totals £1,600), Suzanne tells the camera how when it came to choosing the colour she was like a kid in a sweet shop and simply had to go for white as it stands out more. It's important for Suzanne to have a car, seemingly a car that is worth a whopping £28,000. Make of that what you will.
We're introduced to Karl, a gentleman in his 50's, he's very proud of his 'bachelor pad', complete with a classy pair of ladies knickers hung up on the wall in all its glory. Karl suffers from a respiratory disorder and decided to give up his job as a taxi driver to receive benefits. "To be honest, I can't knock the benefits system, they're good to me" he tells the camera. Yeah, I bet you can't Karl, what with your fridge packed to the rafters with cans of cider and lager, complete with tobacco paraphernalia on the kitchen worktop. How is that respiratory condition of yours coping with the fags, love? "I do spend a great deal of the money I receive on alcohol and socialising" Karl says. Allow that to sink in if you're reading this on your way to work this morning dear readers of mine.
At the opposite end of the spectrum we have 33 year old single Dad; Craig. Craig lives in Bradford with his 7 year old son Brooklyn, he separated from his son's Mother a couple of years ago and now raises his son alone. The benefit allowance that Craig receives is less than the income he received when he was working. His decision to leave work has enabled Craig to spend all of his time with his son, a decision he says he's glad of and means his son is thriving at school.
Craig seems different to Karl with his love of alcohol and Suzanne with her love of her expensive sports car. He's resolute in his opinion that he'd be worse off if he worked as he'd be earning the minimum wage and would have to fork out a considerable amount for childcare.
Karl's off to the pub now. Since he gave up his job as a taxi driver his days are spent doing as he pleases. "I'll probably spend 3 or 4 hours down there now" he says. "More often than not my friends will buy me a beer, but sometimes I'll get a round in. It's only fair". More fool your mates Karl. With a wry smile Karl tells the camera with no sense of irony "Socialising means I'm getting out and about and it's good for my health, the Doctors told me to do it". I bet they also told you to pack in the fags as well Karl, but I expect those words fell on deaf ears eh love?
A friend of Karl's says "here you are, earning more than us while we work". "Ah, you're making me feel guilty now" Karl replies. Not guilty enough though I guess. "I don't know how you do it" his mate says. No I don't either.
Karl's mates head back to work now leaving Karl to enjoy the sunshine, a few beers and cigarettes. "Yeah they rib me for being on benefits, but that's life, I'm not gonna change for no one". More's the pity.
Home improvements time for Suzanne. She's splashing out on a garden makeover in the form of a Jacuzzi in her shed. She talks us through her grand ideas, she's talking disco balls and plywood and she wants it all now. Think Veronica from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
Karl's checking his bank account now, he's hopeful that his money from the state has hit his account. "Oooo yes, £200 has gone in, then another £220 yesterday and hopefully £330 next week, time for a pint".
Walking to the local shop Karl declares "life is wonderful, the sun is shining, there's a cool breeze, I love life". Yeah I bet that hard earned dosh in your back pocket adds to your lust for life an' all.
We watch as Karl indulges in a spot of Supermarket Sweep. "Let's get the important things" he says whilst picking up a multipack of Snickers bars. "And now for something nutritious" he mutters, once again without a shred of irony as a king size Pot Noodle finds its way into his basket. Once he starts going on about the most important meal of the day being his 4 pack of cider it's as much as I can do to not fling my remote control at the TV. 20 of his usual fags and a mint magnum completes his shop and he's still got plenty of change for a stop in his favourite cake shop.
Single father Craig has to carefully balance his money, he's been notified that he now has to actively seek work otherwise he faces having his benefits stopped. All the while Karl has splashed out on a puppy, she's going to be his baby girl you see. Not too dissimilar from the actual child Craig has to raise on his own.
Yes, at this point both my blood and my piss boiled in equal measures. Where's the fairness in this? Evidently Craig is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Suzanne has caught the fame bug, pity she's not caught the working bug but there you go. She's featuring on the radio today to talk about her experience. She's been thrust into the world of celebrity you see, she's going with the flow and enjoying it.
Talking about Karl's 30-40 day cigarette habit, he concedes he now needs help to quit. Especially considering the serious lung condition he has with which he receives £1,300 a month in benefits for surely can't be getting better as a result.
Time for a 'promotional photo shoot' for Suzanne, she's using her benefit money to fund the underwear shoot and the lingerie is provided from a posh shop apparently. We're introduced to Barry, Suzanne's agent (yes, you read that right, she has an actual agent). Barry is telling Suzanne how to pose and I've ran out of cushions to hide behind. My toes are curling through embarrassment and I can't bear much more.
Karl's off to the pet shop with his £400 puppy Lulu, he wants some REALLY NICE dog treats apparently. Dog in one hand, fag in the other they head off on a shopping spree.
Most of Karl's money goes on fags he says and he enjoys one whilst almost coughing up a lung in the process. He's hopeful he'll be able to quit the habit soon, for both financial and health purposes. He wants to be able to spend his money on Lulu and a few luxuries for himself, you see.
Suzanne ain't happy, her Jacuzzi isn't reaching the desired temperature. Despite only intending to spend £350 on her hot tub she ended up spending considerably more, however she is of the opinion it's still a bargain. Wine in hand, Suzanne tells the camera "whatever I want, I get it, I don't care what people think". And with that she's off to treat herself at the nail salon.
It's been a long time since I last watched something so utterly distasteful. The benefits system is ridiculously flawed and I hope the powers that be spent some time watching this eye-opening documentary. In one scene you have Craig, a single Dad who is desperately trying to raise his son to the best of his ability despite facing a range of challenges, a man who you can tell doesn't want to be on benefits but feels he has no other choice. Then we have Karl, a man who is so unapologetic with his freeloading inclination and sees absolutely nothing wrong with his actions.
I learnt 2 things yesterday. If you don't want to raise your blood pressure then 1. Don't watch documentaries of this nature and 2. Don't ever call the HMRC - but more on that another time, I've still not peeled myself off the ceiling after daring to phone them yesterday.