Right of Reply: Phil Redmond

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The creator of `Brookside' replies

to Deborah Orr's criticism of the show's approach to date rape

DEBORAH ORR criticises Brookside for its drug rape story-line but appears to have missed the point. It is not about whether a woman can be relied upon to give evidence, but about the impact of such a vile crime and the worrying increase in the use of drugs in its perpetration.

The article suffered from the old premiss that only women should speak ethically about rape. Well, most men do understand, and it's offensive to suggest they don't.

What we are trying to look at in this story-line is both the difficulty of prosecution, bearing in mind that the central principle of our legal system rests on 12 jurors being convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, and the impact of the crime. The first point is the reason why attacks are on the increase, which makes the latter point so important.

We know that it is impossible to stop people of evil intent getting hold of such drugs, as it has been over the ages. The Mickey Finn is not a new phenomenon. What we can attempt to do is educate more susceptible people by showing them the consequences of their actions. It is not a quicker and cheaper way to easy sex, but a cold-blooded and cynical act of violence.

Brookside has not lost its clarity of thought on social issues, or lost objectivity. There is nothing black or white in this world, just as there are no panaceas. Everything that affects the interaction of society is as complex as the people who make up that society.

The current story-line is as complex and as challenging as any we have done, and it is far from over. The focus will stay with Nikki Shadwick and her family, as she attempts to rebuild her life. I'd prefer Brookside to be judged on that, not on a knee-jerk reaction to one stage of a story- line.