Queen Vic landlady Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) is to be at the centre of a hard-hitting EastEnders storyline when she is raped by family member Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo).
The BBC1 soap has been working with Rape Crisis on the upcoming plotline which will also see Linda having to come to terms with what has happened to her following the attack.
“It is important that these stories are told within dramas to start to change the public narrative around rape which heavily blames survivors," Fiona Elvines, operations co-ordinator of Rape Crisis, South London said. "Equally, given the fact that each year 85,000 women and girls and almost 10,000 men are raped in this country, the subject needs to be approached factually and empathically, with a motivation not to entertain but to inform.
"The team at EastEnders, from producers and researchers, to writers and actors, have demonstrated a commitment to getting the balance right, working closely with us to create a story that tells some of the truths of sexual violence. We hope this commitment shows through and that anyone watching the show who feels they want to talk about their own experiences feels able to call the National Rape Crisis Helpline.”
Dominic Treadwell-Collins, executive producer at EastEnders, added: “EastEnders has a history of telling important human stories that have the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives. We have been working closely with Rape Crisis to tell the story which encourages women who have been in a similar situation to Linda to speak out. Kellie Bright and Matt Di Angelo both give such brave, raw and intelligent performances as this story rips into the heart of the Carter family, changing lives forever, testing Mick and Linda’s marriage and exposing some very dark secrets - as we move from autumn through to Christmas and beyond.”
Viewers have seen Dean pursue Linda over the past couple of months, with his infatuation so far remaining a secret from the rest of the Carter clan. Linda has rejected Dean's advances and made it plain that she isn't interested in him, but events will take a sinister turn later this year. Speaking about the story, actress Kellie Bright - who plays Linda - said:
"I feel honoured to be given the responsibility of raising awareness of such an important issue. To be entrusted with this storyline, which will not only highlight the issue but also educate against many myths surrounding rape, is a privilege. The statistics that I have learnt from researching this subject matter are so shocking that I hope by EastEnders tackling this storyline, it will help make small progressive steps towards changing people's perceptions of what rape is."
Co-star Matt Di Angelo (Dean Wicks) commented: "This is an extremely challenging storyline to play, but an incredibly important story to tell. Kellie and I have been lucky enough to have the support of everyone at EastEnders and Rape Crisis have been extremely helpful with our research.”
In the past, EastEnders has tackled the emotive subject matter of rape, most notably with the attack on Kathy Beale by businessman Wilmott Brown and Trevor Morgan's assault on wife Little Mo.