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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK
EastEnders sees helpline calls rocket
Michelle Ryan and Jessie Wallace
The BBC soap opera has just won eight more awards
An incest storyline in EastEnders has seen calls to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) go up by 60%, the charity has said.

Kat Slater disclosed on Monday night's episode of the BBC One soap that she was Zoe Slater's mother - not her sister.

On Tuesday night, Kat revealed that Zoe's father was her uncle.

Since the start of the storyline calls had soared by 60% compared with this time last year, said the NSPCC.

Michelle Ryan
Ryan: "A real honour" to be involved
"By covering the subject in such a direct, sensitive way, EastEnders is helping to raise public awareness and is adding to a wider atmosphere where people are more likely to report any issues relating to child protection," said chief executive Mary Marsh.

The storyline in EastEnders was introduced only after consultation with the NSPCC and the Samaritans.

The show's executive producer John Yorke told BBC Breakfast: "Whenever you embark on something you know is controversial, you have to be sure you are doing it responsibly and accurately as well.

Strain

"We wouldn't have gone on unless they were happy we were doing it right."

He added that as well as working in-depth with the NSPCC and the Samaritans, they also consulted social workers and psychiatrists.

The audience for Monday's episode peaked at 13.9 million people, according to unofficial overnight ratings.

The viewing figures for the shock revelation of the identity of Zoe's father on Tuesday reached 14.3 million.

Wallace told BBC Breakfast that the latest twist in the soap's plot had been a strain for her.

Jessie Wallace
Wallace: Role was "quite disturbing"
"It was really hard, it was quite disturbing for me to do," she said. "But it was so well written - I just hope I've done it justice."

Michelle Ryan, who plays Zoe, said that she felt the series had treated a difficult subject appropriately.

"It's a very delicate and dramatic and serious storyline, that needs to be done with the utmost care - and I think it's been dealt with that way."

Mr Yorke denied any suggestion that the revelations were motivated by the search for higher ratings - and said that developing the soap's characters led the storyline.

EastEnders won eight awards at Monday night's Inside Soap awards in London - including one for Jessie Wallace as best newcomer.

See also:

02 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
The drama and crisis of soaps
02 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders triumph at soap awards
02 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Soap awards: Winners in full
11 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders triumph at TV awards
26 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders' Kemp joins ITV
25 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders gets fourth episode
26 May 01 | TV and Radio
Picture gallery: British Soap Awards
26 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Soaps criticised for divorce rates
16 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Happy Birthday EastEnders
28 May 00 | Entertainment
EastEnders cleans up soap awards
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