Bosses at the BBC have come out to defend EastEnders after the show received numerous complaints from viewers who found comments made by newly returned Shabnam Masood racist!
The situation arose during Tuesday night’s episode (Jan 14) when Shabnam (Rakhee Thakrar) told her father Masood (Nitin Ganatra) that it was good he was no longer with Carol Jackson (Lyndsey Coulson) because of the difference in skin colour, explaining:
“Carol can see the obvious even if you can’t. It’s not right you being with a white woman.”
Ever since returning to the Square Shabnam, who left a few years ago to restore her personal faith in Pakistan, has not approved of her father’s relationship with the cafe worker, and made her feelings very well-known up until the moment that Carol, who had just found out she has breast cancer, ended the relationship with her father.
However, the comments made by Shabnam following the break-up resulted in the BBC confirming that they had received complaints, but that the comments made by Shabnam were part of a long-burning storyline which will see Masood angry and disgusted with daughter’s behaviour.
The BBC released the following statement to that effect, saying:
“We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with a comment made by Shabnam during EastEnders on 14 January 2014.
“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.
“Shabnam has returned from Pakistan with a renewed religious faith, devoutness and with some strong views. In this episode Shabnam’s comments came from her personal beliefs, but as viewers will see in future episodes, she is strongly challenged on her views by her father Masood.
“Drama often requires an oppositional voice or view-point in order for another character/s to express their feelings, and challenge a particular sentiment or standpoint. This is the case in the episode which will air on 15 January, when Masood makes it very clear that he finds her views unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, Rakhee Thakrar who plays Shabnam discussed her new character with Digital Spy, explaining her reasons behind the comments:
“It comes down to what she believes her dad should do with his life. Secretly, Shabnam has a very tiny wish her parents would get back together – she is a real family girl and that would just make her so happy if her mum and dad got back together.
“That’s the major reason and is what is driving her opinion on his relationship with Carol.”
EastEnders continues tonight at 7.30pm on BBC1 / BBC1 HD.