Working-class lives are real and don’t end like fairy tales, The Mighty Redcar director has said.
Ahead of the final episode of the series, he warned that even the “smaller dreams” motivating the young people of Redcar are fragile.
Dan Dewsbury and an extensive crew spent nine months living and filming in the North East coastal town, the economy and identity of which has suffered since the closure of its steel works in 2015.
In the real-life soap opera, stories of young working-class people in Redcar are told without the comfort of a script to offer a happy ending.
Teenager Safy’s raised and dashed hopes of a netball scholarship to rise out of Redcar, or mechanic Jess’ simple wish to earn minimum wage, are not guaranteed the tidy resolution of a storyline.
Dewsbury told the Press Association: “Nothing works out like in a fairy tale way. This is not a fairy tale. This is real life.
“It’s really hard to follow real life. We don’t know where it’s going to go. It would be great if it could all be determined with direction.
“We’ve just got to follow. It’s important to tell a true story.”
The Mighty Redcar has followed the lives of young, working-class people struggling to work for a future in the North Yorkshire town.
Dewsbury said he aimed to truthfully show their struggles, and not create “another Benefits Street or Skint”.
Potential national netball talent Safy has her scholarship – and the promise of a different life – taken away because her family cannot afford it. Jess loses her job because her boss cannot pay her minimum wage.
Dylan hoped to earn enough through music to support his foster brother, but his uplifting success is not the norm.
Dewsbury said: “Some people like Dylan are on their way to being a pop star, but there are a lot of smaller dreams which are just as pertinent.
“People who just want to have minimum wage. Just want their life to be steady. Those dreams are just as important.”
Dewsbury would not say whether the young people he followed with a large, and local, crew would achieve a happy ending.
He said: “I like to come into their lives and then leave them. All these people are at forks in the road. I like to leave it.
“Safy gets a hug off her friends, and that’s it. What I have learned is that young people bounce.
“I did feel like they would make it. They are survivors.
“There is a scene where Safy is really upset. All her friends give her a big hug and she gets on with her life.”
Dewsbury wanted to show the real lives of people in the town, without “poverty porn” or negativity.
He has said that the young people he met were not “feckless or lazy”, but motivated despite their lack of options.
“Up and down the country there are lots of towns like Redcar,” said Dewsbury.
“There are not the same opportunities, and that’s not really fair. You have to be really motivated to get your dreams.
“At the end of the last episode there is a big message: if you focus on our young people, society will be a better place.
“It’s our responsibility to take care of the younger generation. They are the ones who will fight for places like Redcar. Otherwise these places will just fall apart.”
The final episode of The Mighty Redcar airs Thursday at 9pm on BBC2.