Getting it wrong and upsetting people along the way

Published March 26, 2008

I don’t actually watch Eastenders, but I have had a look at the YouTube clips associated with this story.

So, Eastenders featured a buried alive storyline. Max Branning (who?) apparently cheated on Tania Branning (who?) and she got her revenge by burying him alive. This was something he was particularly afraid of.

She and her new boyfriend dug a grave, put him in a coffin in the hole and left him there.

The BBC had over 600 complaints about this storyline - mostly that it shouldn’t have been pre-watershed.

I thought it was a bit unnecessary, but it’s all LOST’s fault that I am even the tiniest bit freaked out by buried alive stories.

What blows my mind, however, is that on the next episode of Eastenders, the Tania character feels some kind of remorse and goes and digs Max up. They fight, they half reconcile, then he leaves in the back of a black cab. (I don’t actually know if that last part is true, but he does leave by simply driving away from the Square.)

So the BBC went through all of those complaints for no reason whatsoever. The buried alive guy didn’t die, he just drove off. The burier did not become a murderer, she went and rescued him again.

What’s the point? Either have the guts to go through with the storyline or don’t bother. Or, try and be at least somewhat knowledgeable about your audience and know that if you’re going to toy with their sensitivities - do it after the watershed and resolve it in the one episode. At least that way everyone knows where they stand.

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