Monday 23 July 2018

Emmerdale urged to handle acid attack responsibly following Ofcom complaints

Ross, played by Michael Parr, was left with a disfigured face after having acid thrown at him by drug dealer Simon McManus.

The controversial Emmerdale storyline has prompted complaints ITV)
The controversial Emmerdale storyline has prompted complaints ITV)

By Joe Nerssessian and Lucy Mapstone, Press Association

Emmerdale viewers have urged the soap to handle an acid attack storyline with care after it sparked more than 200 complaints to broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

Friday’s instalment of the ITV soap saw Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) confess to her father, Cain (Jeff Hordley) hat she had played a role in the attack on Ross Barton.

Ross, played by Michael Parr, was left with a disfigured face after having acid thrown at him by drug dealer Simon McManus in a case of mistaken identity.

Simon (Liam Ainsworth) had been ordered to throw acid at Joe Tate (Ned Porteous) at the request of Debbie who had paid him to do so as part of a revenge plot.

Ofcom received 228 complaints from viewers following Thursday’s instalment.

During the episode the soap received some praise on social media for reflecting attacks but producers were warned to be “true and fair” to victims of real life acid attacks.

@LeanneMcLough tweeted: “Emmerdale should be true on this storyline to be fair and real for all actual acid attack victims, it should not be glorified, Debbie organised it.”

@MrsKTTurner agreed, posting: “I hope emmerdale do this story justice and ross doesn’t recover in a few episodes as this would be laughing in the face of real victims.”

@IamJess7 wrote: “If Debbie gets away with this without punishment it will do such a huge disservice to victims of these attacks. Acid attacks have life long consequences- Ross’ life has been turned upside down forever and for Debbie to get away with it would be disgusting.”

@HarryReidFP tweeted: “As for this #Emmerdale acid attack storyline… I don’t think it warranted the 200 odd offcom complaints to be honest AS LONG AS they handle it well which means that yes this is a current issue that needs representation but the attacker MUST be portrayed badly.”

On Thursday, an Ofcom spokeswoman said: “We are assessing these complaints under our broadcasting rules, before deciding whether or not to investigate.”

After Simon threw the acid, viewers saw Ross’s face become scarred.

Emmerdale had warned before the scene that viewer discretion was advised.

An Emmerdale spokeswoman said: “Emmerdale has a long track record of tackling difficult and topical storylines and the unprovoked acid attack upon Ross is another example of this.

“We take our responsibility seriously when portraying what happens in these circumstances. Consequently, the storyline was researched thoroughly with medical experts at Pinderfields Hospital.

“For the sequence following Ross’s attack we adhered carefully to the NHS guidelines about how to help people who are the victim of an acid attack.

“We also specifically researched this story with one particular victim who felt it important to share what happened to him with the Emmerdale production team.”

The controversial storyline has been in the works for some time, with Parr confirming several months ago that an acid attack would be taking place.

Parr recently told Digital Spy: “It’s a big responsibility and one that I was very nervous about taking on. I know it’s a reality for some people and it’s so important to get it right and do the story justice.

“The Emmerdale team have done extensive research and we really want to raise awareness of the devastating consequences an attack like this has on a person’s life.”

Press Association

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