A number of EastEnders viewers found themselves switching off from last night’s episode, as the popular character Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) was blackmailed into falsely retracting a rape allegation.
In a 2014 episode of the long-running BBC soap, Dean (Matt Di Angelo) raped his sister-in-law Linda in the Queen Vic pub, which led to him being ostracised by the Walford community and eventually chased out of town in 2016.
In recently aired scenes, recently returned Dean fell down a flight of stairs after being slapped by George (Colin Salmon), the fiancé of Linda’s mother Elaine (Harriet Thorpe).
Due to George having a suspended sentence for a previous assault, he faces potential prison time if convicted of attacking Dean. In an attempt to help her future stepfather, Linda pleaded with Dean not to press charges.
On Wednesday’s edition (22 November) of the show, Dean agreed to Linda’s request, as long as she tells everyone they know that she lied about him raping her, and instead claims they had an affair that she didn’t want her husband Mick (Danny Dyer) to discover.
“I came on to you. I wanted to sleep with you, so I did,” an emotional Linda told Dean. “And afterwards I was scared about what Mick was going to say, so I said you raped me. I lied.”
After the scenes of Linda’s false admission aired, EastEnders viewers shared their reactions to the shocking turn of events, with many criticising the inclusion of a false rape plot in the current climate.
As of 2022, only 1.3 per cent of rapes result in a charge, despite the number of sex attacks recorded by police rocketing to “record numbers”.
“Bad story tonight,” one viewer wrote on X/Twitter. “I don’t think it was appropriate at all, especially given the low rates of successful convictions. You could’ve done way better in this space.”
“Nasty work Eastenders,” wrote another unimpressed viewer. “Don’t know what you were thinking bringing this man back. Horrible storyline.”
Others claimed that the choice of plotline was harmful to sexual assault survivors.
One post on X/Twitter said: “This is absolutely disgusting and clearly shows a lack of respect for real-life victims, all in the name of a storyline?? Shame on you Eastenders.”