In its quarterly review of programme complaints and interventions, published today, the ITV regulator says it is concerned about the introduction of a 'tougher and more violent style' in the rural soap opera.
Nearly 400 complaints about the programme were made to Yorkshire TV in the month to 28 June, and the ITC itself has received 42 complaints since April. 'Particular care (is) required in a programme scheduled so early in the afternoon and evening,' the review says.
Emmerdale goes out on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm, with repeats the following Thursdays and Tuesdays at 12.55pm. It has an audience of about 12 million. At the beginning of this year it attracted complaints from relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie disaster when an episode depicted an aircraft crashing on houses.
That seemed to signal a switch from the programme's former cosy style to a grittier, approach. Last month's complaints were about a post office robbery that led to a siege in which someone was killed.
Keith Richardson, controller of drama at Yorkshire, Television, confirmed that there had been a deliberate change of emphasis in an attempt to make the 22-year-old programme more in tune with the times. But he said the ITC's criticism would be 'taken into account'.
The ITC received a total of 742 complaints during the quarter on topics ranging from taste and decency to scheduling. There were even complaints about ITN using the Big Ben chimes at the start of News at Ten when the programme did not start precisely at 10pm.