The BBC has received nearly 250 complaints over the first episode of EastEnders to feature an all-black cast in its 24-year history.
The episode aired on 24th February featured Patrick Trueman (played by Rudolph Walker) recalling his experience of being a young black man living in 1950s London.
Of the complaints, 57 were received before the broadcast. It is believed that the majority were from people who thought using an all-black cast was “inappropriate.”
“It is not unusual for EastEnders to devote a whole episode to a single storyline or set of characters, and this episode was one of these occasions. This was an opportunity to explore in some depth the background and experiences of Patrick Trueman, one of EastEnders’ longest-standing and most popular characters,” the corporation said in a statement.
“There have been many ‘all-white’ episodes in the show’s 24 year history, and we do not believe there is any reason why an ‘all-black’ episode should not be included within the series.
“Some viewers felt it was unnecessary to raise the subject of the Notting Hill race riots. These form part of the character’s experience, as well as British history, and we feel it was absolutely legitimate for these characters to discuss them,” the BBC added.
The all-black episode achieved an average audience of 8.4 million viewers and a 36% share.