What happened to the stars of Benefits Street eight years later – drugs, fame and death

It was the controversial and gritty documentary on the wall that gave viewers an unrestrained look at life on the bread line for residents living on a Birmingham street.

Channel 4’s Benefits Street catapulted 50p man Smoggy, White Dee, Black Dee, Sherrell Dillion, Fungi and Mark and Becky into the public eye when it aired in January 2014.

The show featured life on one of Britain’s most deprived streets and the people who lived there.

TV crews followed residents for months on James Turner Street in Winson Green.

It ran for five episodes and was watched by millions. The spotlight was well and truly on the town street, which even featured in the BBC and ITV’s main news and had journalists from all over the world descending on the road to get an interview with the cast.

Pictured is Deirdre Kelly aka White Dee who appeared on the reality TV show Benefits Street in 2014

But where are the stars featured on the show eight years after the show aired? To find out read below.

Smoggy aka man 50p

'Smoggy' - aka Stephen Smith - star of the Channel 4 series Benefits Street
‘Smoggy’ – aka Stephen Smith – star of the Channel 4 series Benefits Street

Smoggy, as he was known, was the door-to-door salesman on the street. Stephen Smith is affectionately known as the ’50p Man’ after selling cut-price household items to residents of Benefits Street.

His entrepreneurial spirit caught the eye of millionaire Charlie Mullins, who offered him a £10,000 deal to open a 50p discount store to rival Poundland. But things didn’t work out and the business venture never happened.

Smoggy, a father-of-two, recently revealed he fled Birmingham after suffering a shocking hammer attack in his own home.

Smoggy moved to Glasgow after the attack after looters broke into his flat and attacked him with a hammer in 2014.

Talk to birmingham livehe said: “I got a lot of publicity from some people for my 50p business after the show aired, but I also got a lot of negativity.

“Due to the negativity I have decided to end the 50p business. I was then offered to sell fish door-to-door at a business in Warwickshire, but it didn’t work out.

“I decided I had to leave Birmingham, so I moved all the way to Scotland.”

Smoggy started working in Glasgow as a painter and decorator before becoming a machine operator.

However, after sustaining a hand injury, he is now unemployable and currently on Universal Credit.

white dee

White Dee watched the first series of Benefits Street on Channel 4
White Dee watched the first series of Benefits Street on Channel 4

White Dee, real name Deirdre Kelly, shot to fame after the show aired.

Audiences took to the down-to-earth, larger-than-life mother figure who became the matron of the streets.

Dee starred on Celebrity Big Brother alongside ex-boxing promoter Kellie Maloney and The Only Way Is Essex star Lauren Goodger in September 2014.

The mum-of-two walked into the house as Duchess of Solihull on a secret assignment set by CBB and fooled some of the US contestants who really thought she was royal.

She pretended to be 23rd in line to the throne. Dee went on to finish fifth on the reality show. She also starred in a film playing the role of Liz in the 2019 film Ray & Liz.

Dee appeared on ITV’s Jeremy Kyle in February 2019 to talk about her suicide attempt after her father’s death and a battle with depression.

She left James Turner Street and now lives in Handsworth. She is a staunch charity and currently co-leads the ‘Birmingham Say NO – to knife crime and serious youth violence’ campaign across the city. She also raises funds for the Balls to Cancer Charity and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Dee admitted her life had been torn apart and ‘turned upside down’ after her appearance on Benefits Street and said bosses had ‘exploited’ residents who were being ‘cut dry’.

She said: “There was no support while it was being made and there was definitely no following. At the time, a lot of the attention was negative.

“We were to receive stipends. But no one told us how to deal with it. All we had to do was deal with the fallout from the show.”

Channel 4 disputed these claims and said in a statement: “Psychological support was offered to all those who appeared in the series throughout filming, during transmission and beyond. Advice was given on the likelihood of nasty reviews and comments on social media.

“All contributors received guidance on engaging with online communities and social media.

“Following the unprecedented media attention, production executives returned to Birmingham to provide continued support to contributors throughout the transmission. Close contact and support continued beyond the transmission.”

black dee

Black Dee, real name Samora Roberts
Black Dee, real name Samora Roberts

Samora Roberts, aka Black Dee, has also been featured on Benefits Street.

But her life unfortunately took a turn for the worse after being jailed for seven years for drug offenses and possession of live ammunition.

Police surveillance footage of his home showed a “regular trade” in drugs being sold to customers between May and June 2013.

She was arrested after .38 caliber Smith and Wesson cartridges were discovered in subsequent police raids.

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She denied possessing live ammunition and any role she played in running a “round the clock” drug smuggling operation.

However, was convicted in November 2015 of possession of ammunition and heroin, and two counts of possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply, having previously admitted cannabis-related offences.

The 39-year-old was one of the first locals to speak out against Channel 4 producers for ‘exploiting’ locals.

Sherrell Dillion

Sherrell Dillion was one of the stars of Benefits Street and became a successful model
Sherrell Dillion was one of the stars of Benefits Street and became a successful model

Sherrell was the budding model who dreamed of a glamorous life strutting on Europe’s biggest catwalks.

And the 35-year-old’s dream came true after the show as she enjoyed the exposure given to her.

Sherrell became a model and before the lockdown her work regularly took her to London, Paris and Milan.

She modeled at London Pacific Fashion Week and modeled at the Black Hair Awards, which she described as one of her “favorite jobs”.

A mother of two children, Sherrell has also carried out numerous charitable actions. She flew to Ghana with the Attu Reach Foundation – a charity that helps orphans, religious communities, schools, widows and vulnerable children in Africa. She visited an orphanage and said the experience was “enlightening and rewarding”.

Although born and raised in Birmingham, generations of her family hail from Ghana. Her dream is to live in Ghana and have a school for young aspiring models.


James Clarke – known by the nickname Fungi – died after battling drug addiction

Fungi, real name Seamus Clarke, had a close friendship with White Dee on the show.

He had a charming personality but struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for years.

He claimed he was left homeless following the controversial TV show.

He said he had been forced to sleep rough and beg for money since the hit Channel 4 series ended and left Birmingham before returning.

The father-of-four was beaten and left for dead in 2018. He was knocked unconscious after his head hit a curb and fell to the ground in an attack in his hometown.

Fungi previously described life on Universal Credit as “the worst thing in the world” after his monthly payments were cut by more than half.

He was staying at a home recovering from drug addicts, but tragically the 50-year-old died of a heart attack in July 2019.

Mark Thomas and Becky Howe

Mark Thomas and Becky Howe who starred in Benefits Street
Mark Thomas and Becky Howe who starred in Benefits Street

Mark Thomas, 29, had never held a full-time job.

But a month after filming wrapped, he got a job as a manual worker and he and his partner Becky Howe, also 29, stopped claiming benefits.

They and their young children moved after the show aired, but did not share their new address with their neighbors.

In 2019, neighbor Anna Korzen said, “They seemed to enjoy the attention at first, but I think it was too much for them.

“They left six months ago but didn’t say where to go.”

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