EastEnders: Viewers complain over 'racist' Shabnam Masood
16 JANUARY 2014
The BBC has defended EastEnders after a comment made by returning character Shabnam Masood was branded 'racist' by viewers.
On Tuesday night's episode, Shabnam was seen telling her father Masood Ahmed that he should never have dated Carol Jackson because she is white.
Shabnam – played by Rakhee Thakrar – fiercely opposed Masood's romance with Carol ever since returning to Walford, and was pleased when Carol decided to end the relationship.
"Carol can see the obvious even if you can't," she told her dad. "It's not right you being with a white woman."
The BBC confirmed that it had received complaints over the remark, but pointed out that Masood sternly rebukes Shabnam for her remarks in the following episode.
"We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with a comment made by Shabnam during EastEnders on 14 January 2014," a BBC statement read.
"Shabnam has returned from Pakistan with a renewed religious faith, devoutness and with some strong views. In this episode, Shabnam's comments came from her personal beliefs, but as viewers will see in future episodes, she is strongly challenged on her views by her father Masood.
"Drama often requires an oppositional voice or view-point in order for another character/s to express their feelings, and challenge a particular sentiment or standpoint. This is the case in the episode which will air on 15 January, when Masood makes it very clear that he finds her views unacceptable."
Shabnam returned to Albert Square in Monday night's episode.
Speaking to Digital Spy about the storyline, actress Rakhee said, "It comes down to what she believes her dad should do with his life.
"Secretly, Shabnam has a very tiny wish her parents would get back together – she is a real family girl and that would just make her son happy if her mum and dad got back together.
"That's the major reason and is what is driving her opinion on his relationship with Carol."