A review on the slick website of its makers describes The Scheme as “the most telling, revealing and compulsive documentary series in a decade”.
But for the stars of the reality show surveying the impact 10 years since it was first shown, it’s a very different story.
Whatever plaudits it brought filmmakers Friel Keane, one of its stars has claimed it ruined her life.
Kay McCutcheon shot to fame on the 2010 Bafta Award-winning BBC series, which followed the lives of six families in the impoverished Onthank and Knockinlaw estates in Kilmarnock.
But the 47-year-old struggled to shake off the stigma of being a cast member and has found it difficult to hold down work since.
Former sandwich factory worker Kay, whose daughter Kendal, then six, ended up being bullied at school, said: “The Scheme showed people lying around, taking drugs, drinking, swearing and fighting.
“I’ve never taken a drug in my whole life and I’ve worked for a living.
“After the show, Kendal got hassle at school because she was ‘the lassie from The Scheme’.
“I’ve found it hard to get jobs. I’m not working at the moment and I’d love to get back to work but, 10 years on, people still judge me because of what they saw on The Scheme.
“I’ve had situations where I’ve got a job and then people there start asking me, ‘Are you the woman from The Scheme?’
“After the show, I had people question things like, ‘How can you afford that big TV?’
“But I worked before. I had a job and I saved. I’ve gone without so my family could have things. The Scheme totally ruined my life.”
After a slow start, the warts-and-all style of The Scheme quickly made it a word-of-mouth ratings hit.
Legal difficulties meant episodes were frequently postponed but, at its height, it was watched by an incredible 840,000 viewers.
It attracted a storm of criticism though, and politicians accused the programme makers of exploiting vulnerable people.
Mum-of-two Kay appeared in the series alongside her pregnant daughter Candice, then 15, and daughter Kendal. Police were filmed visiting Kay’s household several times – and she received a six-month suspended sentence for assaulting her neighbour.
The show also featured the Cunninghams, including father Gordon and mother Annie, alongside their daughter Kimberley and sons Chris and Brian.
Former Celtic star Paul Caddis turned down a role on The Scheme, saying he would be “absolutely slaughtered”
if he took part.
The footballer, left, who now plays for Swindon Town, was approached by makers to return to Onthank, where he grew up.
Appearing on the Open Goal podcast, the 31-year-old, who was a free agent at the time of the interview, said series bosses wanted him to be the success story of The Scheme.
Caddis has also played for Dundee United, Birmingham City, Bury, Blackburn Rovers and Bradford City.
The family faced a series of troubles, including Brian ending up in prison after a breach of the peace charge and Chris’s trouble with drug dealers.
Out-of-control James McMurray sparked outrage when he was seen shooting up heroin on the show. His tongue had turned blue after he swallowed 30 diazepam pills, washed down with super-strength lager.
The Cree family made an appearance as they worked to reopen the area’s first community centre but struggled to raise the money to run it.
The documentary also followed the chaotic life of drug addict Marvin Baird, his dog Bullet and his ex Dayna McLaughlin.
Prior to filming, Kay said she was approached by producers who she claims told her they were making a documentary series about people’s lives in the Ayrshire town.
She agreed to take part and was later shown recorded footage of positive interactions between her and her daughter Kendal. But she was shocked when the scenes did not appear in the final broadcast.
Kay, who was not paid to appear, added: “They told me they were doing a show about life in Kilmarnock. They didn’t mention they were going to be looking at how poor the estate was.
“I should never have agreed to go on. My dad had just died and I wasn’t thinking straight.
“Before it was on TV, I was shown five minutes of film where I’d been playing with my daughter. But that was cut from the show.
“When I saw it on television, I was so hurt. I’d never go on it again no matter what I was offered. It just wasn’t worth it.”
In July 2011, former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson slammed the show, calling it “poverty pornography”.
The programme makers have always denied allegations that the series exploited the residents of the estate.
But Kay added: “Yes, we had issues. There were people taking drugs, people with no money or jobs, people doing what they could and surviving. But that’s true of everywhere, not just Kilmarnock.
“Some people don’t have much but everyone is friendly and we help each other out.
“Then the crew just packed up and left. The show was a big success but nothing changed for the people in Onthank. No good came of it.”
In 2012, Kay left the area because she grew tired of being associated with the show. She moved to nearby Galston but returned to
Onthank after discovering her new house was a former murder scene.
Kay also claims her TV appearance led to unwanted advances from one male fan.
She said: “After the show finished, I just wanted to get away. Everyone knew who we were.
“I suddenly started getting phone calls from a guy who said he had loved seeing me on TV. He would call me all the time and I had to contact the police as well as block his calls.
“I moved away but that was a disaster because I discovered there had been a murder there. In the end, I moved back. Kilmarnock is my hometown – it’s where I belong.
“I don’t see any of the other families who were on the show. Now I try to lead a quiet life with my family.
“I want people to see there is more to me than what was shown on TV 10 years ago.”
A spokeswoman for BBC Scotland said: “The Scheme, which was made by Friel Kean Films, was a fair and accurate portrayal of the real lives of the people featured, in accordance with BBC guidelines.”
A spokesman for Friel Kean said: “The individual concerned was a willing participant in the documentary, the nature of which was fully explained to her.”
Where are they now?
Dayna had an on-off relationship with co-star Marvin Baird. The pair, who battled drug addiction, split for good when the show ended.
Serial offender Baird has told how he kicked his drug habit after starting a relationship with Sharon Cunningham. But last November Baird was left devastated when Sharon, 44, passed away.
In April 2018, Cunningham avoided jail after he was caught with heroin. He was shown mercy by a sheriff after it emerged his mum Annie was in hospital.
The court also heard the mum of his twins had left him, taking the children with her.
In May 2018, Annie had her legs and right arm amputated after contracting sepsis.
Baird’s bull terrier Bullet
Location: Unknown – but probably dead
After filming, Bullet was tracked down to a Dogs Trust centre in London, from where he was rehomed.