Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 13:32 UK

EastEnders burial was 'offensive'

Max Branning played by Jake Wood and Tanya Branning played by Jo Joyner
Tanya has sought revenge on Max ever since he had an affair

An EastEnders storyline which involved a live burial has been ruled "offensive" by the media watchdog.

Ofcom received 116 complaints from viewers who thought the scenes, featuring character Max Branning, were "unsuitable" for the time of broadcast.

The BBC said the storyline, aired in March, was crafted in a "responsible manner" and took into account any pre-watershed audience "sensitivity".

But Ofcom has ruled that the BBC was in breach of its decency rules.

'Seriously disturbing'

The BBC noted that the two episodes involved "no explicit violence" and the lead up to the burial scenes were "carefully paced with several indications of the direction of the storyline offered".

However, the Corporation admitted more than 600 complaints had been made following two pre-watershed episodes which saw Branning drugged, put into a coffin and buried alive by his wife, Tanya.

Ofcom said the scenes of the burial alive shown in two episodes broadcast on Good Friday and Easter Monday had a "seriously disturbing element to them".

Jake Wood as Max Branning and Lacey Turner as Stacey Slater
Max and Stacey's affair was discovered

Good Friday's episode, which was broadcast at 2030 GMT, saw scorned wife Tanya (Jo Joyner) enact her revenge on errant husband Max for his affair with Stacey (Lacey Turner), by drugging him and attempting to bury him alive.

'Distressing scenes'

Ofcom said: "Overall the storyline and its treatment had more in common with a dark psychological thriller than a pre-watershed drama.

"Further, in our view, the information supplied at the start of the programmes did not adequately prepare viewers for the extent of the distressing scenes that followed.

"For the reasons already stated the scenes of Max being buried alive were offensive and not justified by the context."

In February, Ofcom ruled the soap breached TV regulations in an episode showing a gang attack on the Queen Vic pub.

The regulator said the soap showed "sustained violence, intimidation and menace" inappropriate for a pre-watershed audience

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