EastEnders focuses on race attitude

EastEnders featured an all-black cast for the first time in its 23-year history last night.

Last night's visit to Albert Square featured a storyline revolving around the Trueman and Fox families.

It was the first episode in the soap's 23-year history that featured only black cast members, but the BBC played it down.

Speaking before the broadcast a BBC spokeswoman said: "Tonight's episode focuses on Patrick Trueman sharing his experiences of being a young man living in 1950s Britain with the family he lives with (the Foxes), which does mean it's solely an all-black cast on screen.

"Patrick and the Foxes are an integral part of Albert Square and this is no different to other episodes where we've concentrated on one particular family or storyline in the past."

The episode began with Chelsea (Tiana Benjamin) on a date with newcomer Theo (Rolan Bell), who says he's researching a book on the 1958 Notting Hill Race Riots.

As the story unfolds, we discover Patrick (Rudolph Walker) was arrested on an assault charge at the time, and when Chelsea tries to question him about it, Patrick looks back at the racism he encountered on first arriving in Britain.

An insider said: "The Trueman family do have strong storylines at the moment, but this is more than that. It's clearly very much a deliberate decision to have an all-black cast. But the question is, why? And why not publicise it?

"If you're going to make a deliberately political statement by doing this, at least announce it first. It's almost as if they changed their mind."