Hello and welcome to today’s edition of A Slice Of Soap.
EastEnders is no stranger to controversy and the latest furore concerns new character Tony King. He is Bianca’s boyfriend, but he’s also a paedophile who’s been grooming Bianca’s 15-year-old step-daughter Whitney Dean. The scenes of Tony (played by actor Chris Coghill) preying on the teenager in the pre-watershed soap have proved too much for some viewers and, as a result, the BBC has received scores of complaints.
On Friday night’s episode, Tony was shown kissing Whitney after sneaking into her bedroom. On Monday, he was back in her bedroom telling her: "You look just like that same 12 year-old girl I fell in love with." In addition to the subject itself, it’s the depiction of Whitney appearing a willing participant that has upset some fans. There have already been almost 200 complaints to the BBC and media regulator Ofcom and BBC message boards contain posts from horrified viewers: "I am totally disturbed by tonight’s episode…I can barely talk," one said. "The storyline with Whitney & Tony is terrible. I am aware this type of abuse is going on in some homes but is this really the only way to get the message across?" Another message said: "It is appalling that my daughters watch this just before bed. This is a family show and I think I should be able to choose how I approach/inform my children about abuse. Not via EastEnders."
The BBC defended the soap, stating that they were working closely with the NSPCC on the storyline. Copies of the script are apparently sent to the charity for perusal. The controversy over this and last month’s row over the murder of Jase Dyer is the latest in a long-line of complaints about certain storylines. Only recently, the BBC was censured by Ofcom for the Max Branning buried-alive scenes.
My own personal view is that child abuse is, obviously, a very disturbing subject. By involving the NSPCC, I think the EastEnders writers are taking their responsibility seriously and trying to get across the insidious nature of child abuse and child abusers in a realistic manner. There is no way to tackle this subject and make it ‘pleasant’ viewing. Obviously, I wouldn’t want them to go too far over the line, but if this subject is aired to millions via a soap and it gives one abused child the courage to speak up, or if it makes an abuser stop, then it will all have been worthwhile. That’s my opinion – what’s yours? Is EastEnders going too far with this storyline? Click ‘add a comment’ and let me know but PLEASE DO NOT SWEAR.
That’s it for now. Join me on Friday for more soap news and gossip. Got a comment about your favourite soap, this blog or anything else? Share it with me.
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