EastEnders bosses defended their new ‘bestiality’ storyline yesterday in the face of renewed criticism from animal rights campaigners, church groups and rival TV companies who wish that they had thought of it first.
A spokesman for the BBC denied any attempt to deliberately use controversy or sensationalism to boost ratings, and argued that the show was merely trying to raise the level of public debate on the rights and wrongs of having sex with household pets.
Soap opera storylines involving sex with farm animals have always been approached with caution. Both Emmerdale and the Archers have been accused of hinting at the practice in recent years, but open discussion of it has remained taboo.
A small minority of animal rights groups have spoken out in support of EastEnders, including equine charity WeHeartHorses. ‘We are a nation of animal lovers,’ said a spokesperson, ‘and we should not be ashamed to discuss the importance of loving stable relationships.’
Coronation Street writers have declined to comment on rumours of a new storyline in which a long-running character is outed as a pigeon fancier.