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Film and TV

The BBC’s response to complaints about a same-sex kiss in a CBBC teen drama is a stunning middle finger to homophobes

Lily Wakefield August 3, 2020
BBC swamped with complaints for same-sex kiss on The Next Step

Cleo and Jules kiss on Canadian teen drama The Next Step, aired by CBBC - and complained about by hundreds of viewers. (YouTube/The Next Step)

CBBC has issued a “perfect” response to all the homophobes who were upset by a same-sex kiss in teen drama The Next Step.

The BBC was swamped with more than 100 complaints over a programme which showed an innocent kiss between two teenage girls in July.

The Next Step is a Canadian drama following a professional dance studio. In the complained-about episode, friends Jude (Molly Sanders) and Cleo (Dani Verago) perform a duet together — and it becomes clear that their feelings for each other are not purely platonic.

Now, the BBC’s response to the homophobes who complained about the same-sex kiss has been circulated on social media, with Twitter users describing it as “perfect” and “simply A+”.

In response to the complaints, CBBC wrote: “The decision to include this moment, as part of a longer storyline throughout series seven which has been tracking the development of a romantic relationship between two of the characters, Jude and Cleo, was taken very carefully and with much consideration, and came about after CBBC and Boatrocker (the production company who make the show) acknowledged that the series could and should do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people.

“This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be.  

“We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude and Cleo’s developing relationship and I’m afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age – CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing, and it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like.

“At Children’s BBC, we are proud to reflect all areas of children’s lives across our factual and fictional output.”

CBBC also pointed out that although The Next Step’s kiss had been reported by some news outlets as scandalous, it was not the first same-sex relationship to be shown, or even the first same-sex kiss.

It continued: “Same-sex relationships have already featured in other CBBC shows such as Jamie Johnson, 4 O Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad, and (contrary to what was reported in the press about The Next Step) the first same-sex kiss on CBBC was in fact in Byker Grove, many years ago.

“This moment in The Next Step is merely one story among a myriad of voices and experiences across our output.”

However, some were not so quick to congratulate the BBC on its LGBT+ inclusivity.

The BBC quietly dropped three trans-specific charities – Mermaids, GIRES and the Gender Trust – from its Action Line pages on”LGBT Issues” and “Gender Identity: Support and Information” last month.

Ten leading LGBT+ groups have slammed the decision as “deeply troubling”, and have accused the BBC of breaching its “duty of impartiality, as set out in the Royal Charter”.

One Twitter wrote: “Maybe their next step could be putting the links to trans support charities… back on their LGBTQ+ support page.” 

More: BBC, CBBC, complaints, response, same sex kiss, The Next Step

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