The BBC has received 278 complaints following the broadcast of last night’s EastEnders, in which Queen Vic landlady Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) was raped by Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo).
A further 103 complaints have also been made to media watchdog Ofcom about the episode, which was broadcast on Monday 6 October between 8 and 8.30pm and watched by a peak audience of 7.3m.
Responding today, the corporation said in a statement: “At no point have there been any scenes of a graphic nature, in fact the attack on Linda was implied and not explicit. We have been extremely mindful of the content within the episode and the timeslot in which it was shown.
“EastEnders has a rich history of tackling difficult issues and Linda’s story is one of these. We have worked closely with Rape Crisis and other experts in the field to tell this story which we hope will raise awareness of sexual assaults and the issues surrounding them.
“We have also taken great care to signpost this storyline prior to transmission, through on air continuity and publicity as well as providing an action line at the end of the episode which offers advice and support to those affected by the issue.”
This isn’t the first time that the BBC1 soap has tackled the emotive subject matter of rape. Scenes shown in 1988 saw Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) raped by bar owner James Willmott-Brown (William Boyde), while Little Mo (Kacey Ainsworth) was similarly attacked in 2004 by Charlie Slater’s darts teammate Graham Foster.
Speaking about the show’s current storyline, executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins commented last week: “There were a lot of discussions. This story is going to go out at 8pm on a Monday night, so we’ve got to be so careful. But we’re also EastEnders and we need to push as far as we can. A lot of people have seen this episode due to editorial policy, so we talked about what we could and couldn’t do.
“A lot was cut because we thought it was too close to the edge. But there’s one shot where Dean gets up and leaves the kitchen, and Linda is left on the table like a piece of meat. That’s shocking, simple and powerful. And yet if your child walked into the room, they wouldn’t know what was going on, which I think is also important.”
Speaking to RadioTimes.com back in September, star Matt Di Angelo predicted that there would be complaints following the episode’s broadcast:
“It’s an important storyline and the statistics about rape are shocking. Eighty percent of rapes aren’t reported. That needs to be spoken about. There are going to be a lot of complaints. People are going to be shocked and upset by the story. But it brings attention to a very important subject. So that’s why we’re doing it,” said the actor.