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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
EastEnders violence 'went too far'
Kacey Ainsworth as Little Mo, attacking Trevor
EastEnders on New Year's Eve: "Stark and graphic"
The violent and abusive treatment of EastEnders' Little Mo screened over Christmas last year went too far for pre-watershed TV, a watchdog has said.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission said the scenes of domestic abuse, and Mo's eventual retaliation, should not have been shown before 2100.


EastEnders has earned its right to deal with difficult themes, including violence

Lord Dubs, BSC
The report singled out episodes of the BBC One TV soap which were shown on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve 2001.

The Christmas edition of the show - which, the report said, would have been watched by families sitting together - included a headbutt and the kidnapping of a baby.

Viewers complained about these and other "tasteless scenes", said the BSC.

The report added: "Similarly, the commission considered that the scenes in the edition broadcast on New Year's Eve, in which Trevor again attacked Mo, only to be struck with an iron, had a stark and graphic quality unsuitable for pre-watershed transmission."

Kacey Ainsworth as Little Mo, in court
Kacey Ainsworth played Little Mo, who was tried for the attack
The BSC said it was "concerned about the intense, disturbing and protracted nature of the scenes portraying Trevor's attacks on Mo" - but added that the plotline of domestic abuse was allowable.

Mo was played by actress Kacey Ainsworth, while Alex Ferns portrayed Trevor.

Lord Dubs, the BSC's chairman, said: "The commission wholeheartedly agrees that EastEnders has earned its right to deal with difficult themes, including violence.

"We have indeed rejected several other complaints against EastEnders' current storylines, and have no wish to declare particular subjects off limits.

"We carefully consider each case on its merits, in the context of the audience expectations which have been built up, and having regard also to the general limits understood by the watershed concept.

"The issue here was not the quality or sensitivity of the drama, but only its scheduling."

'Serious subjects'

The council's comments come a few weeks after it criticised violent storylines in TV soaps in general.

In its defence, the BBC said the EastEnders incidents were "developments in well-established storylines".

The corporation said the violent incidents were represented in a way "consistent for this pre-watershed series".

It added that EastEnders has a reputation for "tackling serious subjects", and that the episodes fell within the expectations of viewers that soap opera celebrations would always be "overshadowed by crises".

The BBC said it the storyline had also encouraged many people to seek help for similar problems.

'Explicit' suffocation

The BSC also criticised ITV1's Peak Practice, which also broadcasts before the watershed, for showing "prolonged and explicit" scenes of a man being suffocated.

The episode showed an injured marine whose face was covered by a nurse, and producers said the scene was designed to show she was mentally unstable.

Channel 4's Banzai Christmas Special was also singled out for a feature which challenged a choirboy to eat as many communion wafers as possible.

The BSC upheld complaints from viewers who said it mocked Christianity, but Channel 4 pointed out the wafers had not been blessed.

But complaints about Joan Bakewell's BBC Two series Taboo, which explored subjects such as sex and nudity, were rejected.

The BSC said viewers had been warned about the show's content, and the show placed its subject matter in an historical context.

See also:

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02 Oct 01 | Entertainment
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