ITV defends decision to broadcast Emmerdale helicopter disaster scenes despite complaints from Clutha victim’s family

More than 1,500 people have signed a Change.org petition asking soap boss Kate Oates to pull the storyline

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ITV has defended the decision to broadcast a helicopter crash storyline on Emmerdale despite complaints of its insensitivity from the families of victims of the Glasgow Clutha pub crash. The Clutha Trust support group set up a Change.org petition asking soap boss Kate Oates to pull the storyline.

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“Ten people died and many more were injured when a Police Scotland helicopter crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow on November 29 2013,” they wrote. “It is completely disrespectful and insensitive to even consider using a similar story line in order to boost ratings for a soap.”

The Emmerdale plot sees Debbie Dingle and Pete Barton’s wedding day end in tragedy after the helicopter he has hired to take them away from the village is hit by an exploding gas canister and crashes through the roof of the village hall.

A spokesperson for ITV defended the decision to air the scenes: “The helicopter crash circumstances are very different to any real life cases that we are aware of. The accident occurs as a consequence of Chrissie setting fire to her cheating husband’s car which spreads to the scrapyard. Gas canisters are ignited and explode into the air striking the helicopter.”

Oates previously defended the plot at a press screening before the families aired their concerns, stating that the show’s writers considered any disaster storyline carefully before bringing it to the screen.

“We were really, really careful to make it clear what the cause of the accident is. It’s set up over a scrapyard, over a marital dispute, where a gas canister explodes and it’s a chain of events” she said.

“It was something that we considered because obviously our intention is always to entertain people, to give them a good story, to thrill them, to upset them in certain kinds of ways sometimes, but it would never be our intention to mimic something like that.

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“So we kept it very deliberately far apart. It’s not something we were concerned about because we made the decision very carefully.”