Television watchdog Ofcom are to assess complaints made about ITV1 soap Emmerdale after it aired a euthanasia storyline before the 9pm watershed. The television regulator is to investigate claims that the story line's air time was in poor taste after a number of complaints from disgruntled viewers.
Tuesday night's episode of the popular continuing drama centered around disabled Jackson Walsh(Marc Silcock) who finally took his own life with the help of his mother Hazel Rhodes (Pauline Quirke) and boyfriend Aaron Livesy (Danny Miller) after living with paralysis from his neck down following a train crash in October.
The delicately handled scenes saw tetraplegic Jackson drink a deadly cocktail of drugs given to him by boyfriend Aaron after months of begging his loved ones to help him end his own life. The orginisation have recieved a flurry of complaints regarding the episode which was aired between 7pm and 7:30 pm. However Ofcom cannot make a decision as to whether the show breached rules until the aftermath of the storyline has played out on screen.
A spinal injury charity called Aspire have spoken out about the storyline criticizing it. A statement on the charity's website said: ''It is no secret that Aspire has been outspoken on this topic since we first had an inkling of where the storyline was heading. Peter Stanford, chairman of Aspire, voiced our concerns in The Daily Telegraph a couple of months back, which caught the attention of the producers of Emmerdale."
''Subsequently we were invited to address our concerns with them at their offices in London. As is plain to see, our suggestions that they move away from the suicide storyline and to show his journey back to independence in a positive light fell on deaf ears. Perhaps ratings count for more than reality."
Director of services for Aspire, Alex Rankin added: ''This storyline had the potential to be ground-breaking in its approach to disability, and to challenge misguided opinions on spinal cord injury. Instead, too often, the script has opted for poor stereotypes or sensational misrepresentation.''
He concluded that he felt that the storyline may give a false impression to those suffering from a spinal injury saying: "I sincerely hope that the 1,200 people who will be paralysed by spinal cord injuries this year, and their families, do not find themselves believing that Jackson's story represents their future."
A spokesperson for Emmerdale defended the storyline saying: ''We have always made clear that our motivation with this story is to drive constructive debate over this sensitive subject. We welcome feedback and 99% of the response we have had from viewers following Tuesday night's episode has been overwhelmingly positive.''
Disclaimer: The above article does not represent the views of TellyMix. We are simply reporting on the story, we do not necessarily share the views of those making complaints about the storyline.