EastEnders viewers have reacted with fury to a joke about diabetes in Thursday’s episode.
The scene that sparked the storm centred around Kim Fox-Hubbard (Tameka Empson), who is often used as a comic character.
Tameka Empson as Kim Fox (BBC)
As she was preparing for her daughter Pearl’s party, she said: “If the kids don’t give themselves diabetes, it’s not a good party, is it?”
However, this did not go down well with some fans who took to Twitter to express their outrage at the quip. Some pointed out that it was not a factually correct joke, others were furious at the soap for making light of a serious condition. But one or two defended the characterisation of Kim.
Diabetes UK said it would contact the makers of the show.
— Diabetes UK (@DiabetesUK) February 24, 2016
@Amyxloulou I take it every fictional TV character in every TV show should be qualified doctors? The coment was true to the character Kim
— Raymond Pettigrew (@raymondop83) February 25, 2016
— Sharan Adlem (@SharanAdlem) February 24, 2016
@BBCOne EastEnders- "if kids can't give themselves diabetes, it's not a good party" absolutely disgusting!!!!
— Amy Louise Hough (@Amylhoughxxx) February 23, 2016
In response to a complaint, a BBC spokesman said: “Although we wouldn’t always condone the things our fictional characters do or say, it’s important for the sake of the drama that they be allowed to express views we might not agree with”.
The spokesman added: “Kim has long been established as a facetious character. We hope most viewers will appreciate that Kim isn’t presented as a medical expert and that she wasn’t speaking with any authority on the facts of diabetes.”
Earlier, EastEnders star Pam St Clement said the soap’s set has “just been patched” over the years.
EastEnders star Pam St Clement (BBC)
The woman known to millions as Pat Butcher, a role she played for more than 25 years, was asked on BBC Radio 5 live about the news relating to the soap’s new exterior set.
“When you think that that show was built and designed, the set was designed, to last max 10 years. It’s just been patched over the years since so if it is going to continue and be part of the schedule it has to be rebuilt for health and safety reasons if nothing else. The thing will fall down otherwise,” Pam said.
“It’s like anything if your car starts to have bits going wrong with it you either put it right or it falls to pieces.”
Barbara Windsor and Pam St Clement share a drink (BBC)
She also touched on the reports about a mosque being part of the new set.
“If it was being done for real now, there’d just be suits living there. You’ve got to find a happy medium but I think it is quite right to keep it update to date with things like a mosque.”
The BBC has said plans for a new EastEnders set are “still to be decided” but added: “The new set will better reflect the East End of London on-screen as well as increase the potential for storylines.”