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‘EastEnders’ defends ‘racist’ Shabnam complaints

Shabnam's first scenes were aired on Tuesday night Copyright BBC
Shabnam with father Masood - Picture BBC

The BBC has confirmed that it has received complaints after Shabnam Masood was branded ‘racist’ by viewers.

This week’s episode saw Shabnam tell her father Masood that he should never have dated Carol Jackson because she is white.

A BBC statement said, “We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with a comment made by Shabnam during EastEnders on 14 January 2014.

“EastEnders has a rich history of tackling social issues. The show does not advocate racism or intolerance in any way; in fact it seeks to challenge these negative views.

“Shabnam has returned from Pakistan with a renewed religious faith, devoutness and with some strong views. In this episode Shabnam’s comments came from her personal beliefs, but as viewers will see in future episodes, she is strongly challenged on her views by her father Masood.

“Drama often requires an oppositional voice or view-point in order for another character/s to express their feelings, and challenge a particular sentiment or standpoint. This is the case in the episode which will air on 15 January, when Masood makes it very clear that he finds her views unacceptable.”

Speaking to DigitalSpy, Shabnam, played by Rakhee Thakrar said: “I could understand why people could think that you might have to approach it differently, but no I have approached it like any other role, like a new character.”

‘EastEnders’ is broadcasting every weeknight this week to coincide with the Carol Jackson’s big breast cancer storyline.