At least 125 people have complained over an EastEnders scene which showed a gay couple lying in bed.

Viewers complained that the episode, broadcast before the watershed, was inappropriate and could “confuse” children.

In the scene, from two weeks ago, engaged gay couple Christian Clarke and Syed Massood were shown topless and cuddling, with bedsheets covering their lower bodies.

They were shown lying in each other’s arms and sharing a quick kiss.

One viewer, writing on a BBC message board, complained: “I’m not a homophobe but really do not want to see gay men in bed naked and kissing, especially whilst my ten-year-old daughter is sitting with me, before the watershed. Might be socially acceptable to some but there is a time and place and definitely not before nine o’clock, confusing my kids. There was no warning.”

Although more than 100 people complained, the BBC said people had contacted the corporation to praise the scene.

Executives said in a statement: “EastEnders aims to reflect real life, and this means including and telling stories about characters from many different backgrounds, faiths, religions and sexualities.

“We approach our portrayal of homosexual relationships in exactly the same way as we do heterosexual relationships, ensuring depictions of affection or sexuality between couples are suitable for pre-watershed viewing.

“We would also point out that same-sex civil partnerships became law in December 2005, giving equal rights to gay couples in the UK. The BBC cannot discriminate by treating gay characters differently to heterosexual characters.

“We have also received a lot of very positive feedback about the storyline regarding Christian and Syed’s relationship.”

Audience research published by the BBC last year found that one in five people say they are uncomfortable with seeing gays and lesbians on television.