BBC defends all-black ‘EastEnders’

Network receives complaints about soap

The BBC has received 239 complaints from viewers about an episode of flagship soap “EastEnders” that starred an all-black cast for the first time.

The episode of the blue-collar soap aired on BBC1 on Feb. 24. In it Patrick Trueman (played by Rudolph Walker) recalled his experience of being a young black man living in 1950s London.

Of the complaints, 57 were received before the broadcast. It is believed that the majority were from people who thought using an all-black cast was “inappropriate.”

“It is not unusual for ‘EastEnders’ to devote a whole episode to a single storyline or set of characters, and this episode was one of these occasions,” said a BBC statement.

“Some viewers felt it was unnecessary to raise the subject of the race riots in Notting Hill (an area of West London). These form part of the character’s experience, as well as British history, and it was legitimate for these characters to discuss them.”

The riots took place in 1958 following a surge of Caribbean migrants to the area after WWII.

“EastEnders,” which has been running for 24 years, is one of Blighty’s most popular TV shows and regularly wins audience shares of up to 40%.

The all-black episode achieved an average audience of 8.4 million viewers and a 36% share.

Some commentators complained that the BBC failed to promote the show before airing.

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