The BBC has responded to complaints about a same-sex kiss featured on a CBBC show, writing that the broadcaster “does not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age”.
The complaints concerned CBBC’s The Next Step, a Canadian series which included a romantic scene between teens Jude and Cleo in an episode last month.
While many viewers praised CBBC for airing the kiss, the broadcaster reportedly received over 100 complaints concerning the scene, according to the Metro.
Defending its decision to air the moment, the broadcaster said that it is “proud to reflect all areas of children’s lives across [its] factual and fictional output”, pointing out that same-sex relationships have already featured in other CBBC shows, such as Jamie Johnson, 4 O Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad.
The BBC also wrote that the decision to include this moment, which featured within a storyline about Jude and Cleo’s developing relationship, was “taken very carefully and with much consideration”, after CBBC acknowledged that the series should “do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people”.
“This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be,” they added.
“We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude & Cleo’s developing relationship and I’m afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age – CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing, and it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like.”
The broadcast concluded the response by clarifying that the first same-sex kiss to air on CBBC featured on Byker Grove – between Noddy (Brett Adams) and Gary (George Trotter) in 1994.
Canadian teen series The Next Step, which began airing in 2013, follows the A-Troupe dancers as they compete to win the regional dance competition, whilst navigating the various dramas, secrets and cliques they face in the process.
The show is currently in its seventh series, with Jude and Cleo’s relationship featuring as a main plot point.