TV bosses at Granada have decided to portray a ‘born-again Christian’ character embarking on a lesbian affair in a bid to make the soap more reflective of modern Britain, a source has said.
Sophie Webster, a 16-year-old character, may begin the relationship with another girl from her Bible study group, the source told a national newspaper.
The source said: “The show’s bosses want to create a soap representative of society in 2009.
“They are acutely aware that they need more gay characters and that they need to tackle more gay issues.”
This is the latest soap to portray a clash between Christian beliefs and homosexuality in a bid to reflect the reality of modern Britain.
The BBC received 150 complaints about an episode shown on 7 October last year, in which Dot Cotton came across two men kissing on a park bench and asked them to stop.
She was shown getting to grips with an mp3 player, while the two male characters sniggered at her efforts to engage with modern technology.
After seeing the men kiss she said: “please remember, the Lord ain’t the only one with eyes.”
The BBC said: “EastEnders aims to reflect real life, and this means including and telling stories about characters from many different backgrounds, faiths, religions and sexualities.
“We approach our portrayal of homosexual relationships in the same way as we do heterosexual relationships.”
Dot Cotton has been used as an example of the way in which Christian characters and their views are often presented as old fashioned and ridiculous by the media.
Last year it emerged that mainstream soaps were being lobbied by groups to present their issues in storylines.
Stonewall, the homosexual lobby group, told The Guardian newspaper it had managed to get a character from Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks to wear a homosexual campaign T-shirt.
“One of our key priorities is to promote fair coverage of lesbian and gay people in the media and we work with programme makers to reflect this,” said Gary Nunn, a communications officer at Stonewall.
“A recent example of this is our work with Hollyoaks where the character Kris Fisher wore a T-shirt with our campaign slogan: ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’.”