Generation Iron: ‘We want to be the next Richard’s brother’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The boys were determined to make their parents feel proud and important What happens when you put 10 children in a house and 12 are English, eight of…

Generation Iron: 'We want to be the next Richard's brother'

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The boys were determined to make their parents feel proud and important

What happens when you put 10 children in a house and 12 are English, eight of them being from the poorest families in the country?

That’s what the Smith family did in Perranporth, Cornwall.

For 36 years they have let the kids play freely, in a building that is decorated to look like a 17th-century sailing vessel, even allowing them to install a paint-covered oven in the kitchen to help them eat more junk food.

It’s a space built on some 20 acres of land and, for children, the greatest challenge has been staying away from drugs and alcohol.

‘My kids have absolutely no weapons’

Image copyright Luke Davis Image caption The boys had to use knives to eat the unhealthy food

For the boys, they have no knives or glass to fight with – instead they use plastic “wings” to fend off unwanted burglars and karate they have learned from the local community centre.

As a result, they are perhaps the only family in the country who admit to carrying illegal knives around their feet.

Originally as part of the documentary series Generation Iron, the children had help from a television production team to create their home.

The boys, aged between 11 and 23, all go to a local school, but are among the most deprived in the county.

The plans were almost turned down when they first turned up to the house.

Clare Smith says her husband Gary was turned down for funding – because they were considered far too tough to be sympathetically portrayed.

“On paper I don’t think we fit the typical mould for an SAS of TV show, because we’re not single mum, we’ve had three fathers – we’re not from affluent backgrounds.

“We were just so passionately hoping we would be selected,” she added.

“We wanted to go in the programme and we wanted to represent and showcase the families who don’t really get recognised because they’re not from a hugely affluent background.”

Stuart Jones, the programme’s associate producer, says: “From the start the kids have been really open, they’ve been really trusting.”

Image copyright BBC / Luke Davis Image caption The series was aimed at “otherwise invisible” British families

‘I want to be the next Richard’s brother’

Image copyright Mark Slater Image caption The series was hailed by social media users as a “beautiful documentary”

The father Gary said: “They were so keen on the show. In fact, all the boys in the family told me they are really proud and they want to be the next Richard’s brother.

“The documentary is more than a TV show, it’s a film about our family, a real film for our future generations.

“The families on the show are extremely inspiring and really show what can be achieved and that is what we want our children to get from it.”

The parents have made little effort to hide the fact that they barely have enough money to pay for essentials, including their electricity, water and petrol.

When asked for the most difficult part of life as an ordinary family, Gary said: “Any conflict, really. We do have a difficult time.”

The film is due to be shown on BBC Two on November 29, followed by a news and features programme for iPlayer on December 3.

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