Ofcom, the television regulator, had been contacted by 87 disgruntled viewers over a scene in BBC One’s EastEnders which they found ‘racist’.
The regulator dismissed the complaints about the episode, which aired on January 14th, while the BBC noted that they had also received separate calls showing concern over the scene which showed devout Muslim character Shabnam (Rakhee Thakrar) taking to task her father (Nitin Ganatra) for his romance with christian-white character Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson).
The sequence in EastEnders showed Shabnam berate Masood, in front of Carol, for dating a ‘white woman’. However the programme, in a subsequent edition, aired a scene between the characters which noted Masood taking issue with the comments previously presented. The family feud lead to the relationship ending.
EastEnders has a rich history of tackling social issues. The show does not advocate racism or intolerance in any way, in fact it seeks to challenge these negative views. – BBC EastEnders
It isn’t the first time soap opera has tacked the alternative racial view or indeed interracial affairs. The first soap opera to bring a mixed race relationship to the forefront was Emergency Ward 10 in 1964 with the relationship of Dr Mahler (
In 1977, ground-breaking at the time, Crossroads also aired an entire storyline which saw a Muslim family outraged that their daughter was dating a while man. Well-to-do middle class family the Chaudri’s (actors Renu Setna and Jamila Massey) took great offense when their Muslim daughter Meena (Karen David) began a romance with white garage mechanic Dennis Harper (Guy Ward). It was however a happy ending for Meena and Dennis as they went off to live together following a ultimatum of ‘family or lover’ to Meena.
EastEnders airs Monday and Friday at 8pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm
[Pictured Top: EastEnders, Pictured Bottom: Crossroads]