A gay kiss on last Friday’s EastEnders was watched by 7.9 million viewers, earning it a 38 per cent share of the total viewing public.

The kiss scene, which we reported on in May, was part of an ongoing storyline concerning a Muslim character, Syed Masood, and his struggle with his sexuality.

Friday’s episode saw Syed, played by Marc Elliot, kiss EastEnders’ only openly gay character, Christian Clarke (John Partridge).

The proposed storyline had attracted criticism, with Asghar Bokhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee arguing that Eastenders should have presented a “normal” Muslim character instead of a gay man.

However, Diederick Santer, the EastEnders executive producer, defended it by saying the soap should tell “stories relevant to our diverse audience”.

Last year, the BBC received more than 150 complaints over a gay kiss shown in Eastenders, between the characters Christian Clarke and Lee Thompson. Many of these complaints focused on the fact that the kiss was screened before the 9pm watershed.

According to viewing figures, the EastEnders ratings peaked at 7.9 milllion during the last 15 minutes of the episode, when the gay kiss was shown.