EastEnders rape: BBC defends Linda Carter scene after receiving nearly 300 complaints

A further 73 viewers complained to Ofcom after Monday night's episode

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The BBC has issued a statement in defence of EastEnders' rape storyline after 278 viewers complained to the broadcaster.

Monday's episode of the long-running soap showed before and after scenes of pub landlady Linda Carter's rape by Dean Wicks.

Despite the crime being implied rather than depicted explicitly, a further 73 complaints were also made to TV regulator Ofcom after the show aired an hour before the watershed at 8pm.

Ofcom will assess these complaints before making a decision to investigate, a spokesperson confirmed.

In a statement, the BBC said: "EastEnders has a rich history of tackling difficult issues and Linda's story is one of these. We have been extremely mindful of the content within the episode and the timeslot in which it was shown. At no point have there been any scenes of a graphic nature.

"We have also taken great care to signpost this storyline prior to transmission, through on air continuity and publicity as well as providing an action line at the end of the episode which offers advice and support to those affected by the issue."

Matt Di Angelo, who plays Dean, told RadioTimes.com in September that he expected complaints.

"It's an important storyline and the statistics about rape are shocking," he said. "Eighty per cent of rapes aren't reported. That needs to be spoken about. There are going to be a lot of complaints.

"People are going to be shocked and upset by the story. But it brings attention to a very important subject, so that’s why we're doing it."

Kellie Bright and Matt Di Angelo as Linda Carter and Dean Wicks

Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said last week that a lot of content was cut from the episode because it was "too close to the edge".

"There's one shot where Dean gets up and leaves the kitchen and Linda is left on the table like a piece of meat," he said. "That's shocking, simple and powerful. And yet if your child walked into the room, they wouldn't know what was going on, which I think is also important."

Harrowing rape scenes have featured in EastEnders before. Kathy Beale was raped by James Willmott-Brown in 1988 while Little Mo was attacked in 2004 by Graham Foster.

Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Coronation Street have all aired rape storylines, while ITV period drama Downton Abbey came under fire last year for a scene in which housemaid Anna Bates, played by Joanne Froggatt, was dragged into a small room and abused by visiting valet Alex Green.

Writer Julian Fellowes defended his controversial storyline, explaining that he was interested in "exploring the resultant emotions and the effect these things have on people".