A Sheffield teenager is taking his first step on the road to achieving his dream of being a reality TV star tonight – when he appears on Channel 5 show Benefits Britain.
Travis Simpkins, aged 18, of Batemoor, is to appear on the programmed alongside 25-year-old Stephanie Cocker, a mum-of-two from Gleadless.
The pair have been chosen to showcase the lifestyles they lead on benefits.
Travis, who was 17 when the programme was filmed, said he has been diagnosed with ADHD and claims employment support allowance. He hopes his TV appearance will be the launchpad he needs to become a TV star. “I’m hoping to come off benefits in the next three months. I want to go into a TV career,” he said. “I want to become a reality TV star.
“I’m hoping to apply for Big Brother’s summer show. I just love cameras and love television.”
Travis is also hoping to get his teeth fixed for free on the NHS – but if that fails he hopes to turn to a crowd-funding website and ask for public donations.
He said: “I want to put up a website like fixmyteeth.com or something and ask people to help fix my teeth, to raise the money, then I’ll pay the rest. No one has ever done that before.”
Asked if he feels he should get a normal job, he said: “I’m just me. That’s my job. I want to entertain people.
“I had a part time job as a valet when I was 16 for four weeks, and I got £25 a day.
“I don’t feel like I could do a job sitting in an office or in a shop or behind a bar, or in a call centre or a butcher’s. I don’t think I could do it.
“I’m not quite sure how people are going to react. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. But some people need to keep their opinions to themselves.”
Travis will be joined on the show by Stephanie, who has two children, two and four, and is also a carer for her own mum. She appeared on the first series of Benefits Britain – and said she is wary of the show after her experience first time round.
Stephanie said: “Last time we had such a laugh. But the aftermath wasn’t fun. People’s reaction to us, calling us scroungers or calling us tramps.
“But they edit it to make you look bad. There was no mention of all the work I’ve done. I worked as a glass collector in a bar at 16. At 17 I worked behind the bar and at 18 I was a door supervisor until I was five months pregnant – when my boss fired me for being pregnant because you’re not allowed to be pregnant while working on the door.
“I can’t go back to night work because I can’t get child minders overnight. I have to look after my mum, do the cooking and cleaning, since I was born. They never put anything in about that.”
She also said claims she would only work for at least £5,000 a month were twisted, adding: “I said with childcare for my children, for £500 a week, then with bills, I would need £5,000 a month to get by.”
On tonight’s show, Stephanie will be looking for education opportunities.
She said: “I want to go back to college, I want qualifications, I want to go and get GCSEs. At the moment I’m looking for education and then I want to be a youth worker.”
n Benefits Britain: Life On The Dole is on Channel 5 at 9pm.