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EastEnders funeral parlour gay sex cleared by TV watchdog

Joe Williams August 17, 2015

Ofcom has cleared a controversial EastEnders episode – after viewers complained about a gay sex scene next to a corpse.

The media regulator received 76 complaints about the scene in the BBC soap, which showed characters Ben Mitchell (Harry Reid) and Paul Coker (Jonny Labey) stripped off and getting passionate in a funeral parlour.

Ofcom has announced it has dismissed the complaints – after assessing whether there were grounds to launch a formal investigation into the programme.

“Ofcom assessed a number of complaints about a storyline in these episodes and concluded they didn’t raise issues warranting further investigation,” said a spokesperson for the broadcasting regulator.

“We found the scenes were justified in the context of a long running plot line and sexual contact between the characters was implied rather than overt.”

“Our rules don’t discriminate between scenes involving opposite sex and same sex couples,” they added.

July’s scenes – which featured the characters kissing in their underwear next to a corpse – warranted a number of complaints from disgruntled viewers.

The BBC had defended the scenes saying they were “implied and not explicit”.

 

“The millions of regular EastEnders fans who tune in each week know and expect dramatic story lines,” said the BBC.

“We are always mindful of our time slot in which we are shown and the scenes in question were implied and not explicit.”

The first kiss between the young men aired in June and provoked homophobic remarks on social media.

Both actors have since responded to the abuse they have received.

Responding to the comments, Reid shared a picture on Instagram of infamous gangster Ronnie Kray – who was openly bisexual.

He wrote: “It’s upsetting to read the negative tweets about the gay kiss in last night’s episode of @bbceastenders, I only want to ask one question.

“Would you of called Ronnie Kray disgusting? #whatwouldronniesay”

He added: “Note: I’m not biting, it just needed pointing out;)”

Labey said society needs to be more understanding of issues faced by gay people.

“We’re not representing gay men in general, that’s something we’re certainly not doing. What we’re representing is people that felt uncomfortable coming out to their parents,” he explained.

He went on to say: “This is just the story of two gay men, and that story for us is that Ben is uncomfortable in coming out, and it’s the reaction of people who’re wanting him to come out.”

More: bb1, BBC, EastEnders, Harry Reid, Ofcom

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