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'No racism' ruling after Roots comment on Coronation Street

Published 21/11/2016

There were complaints after Catherine Tyldesley's character Eva Price made the comment on an episode of Coronation Street
There were complaints after Catherine Tyldesley's character Eva Price made the comment on an episode of Coronation Street

An episode of Coronation Street which was accused of racism over a comment a character made about her hair did not breach the broadcasting code, the regulator has ruled.

The episode, broadcast in August, saw Eva Price, played by Catherine Tyldesley, visit Audrey's hair salon, where she remarked about her dyed hair: "I have more roots than Kunta Kinte.

"No idea who that is, by the way, just something my mum used to say."

The comments, which led Coronation Street to "apologise if this dialogue has caused offence", sparked 473 complaints to media watchdog Ofcom.

Kunta Kinte was a character from the novel Roots: The Saga Of An American Family, which was adapted into a hit TV miniseries.

Based on a real-life ancestor of author Alex Haley, it tells the story of a young man taken from Gambia and sold as a slave.

But Ofcom said the episode, aired in August, did not breach the broadcasting code.

ITV said Eva Price's light-hearted play on the word "roots" was both a reference to her dyed blonde hair needing to be retouched and the title of the US historical drama, Roots.

It said that as Eva used the comment without understanding its meaning, this reflected "her slightly foolish and shallow character".

An Ofcom spokesman said: "We recognised that the character's comment caused offence to some viewers. There is a long history on British television of soap characters behaving controversially and in ways that develop their characters.

"In this case, the character said that she did not understand the meaning of her comment, which served to illustrate her naivety. Therefore, on this occasion we found that the comment was justified by its context."

Ofcom also said it had launched an investigation into The Fall, the BBC drama starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, over a scene which aired in October.

It received complaints over scenes of asphyxiation and hanging.

"We're investigating whether the depiction of suicide in this programme complied with our rules," a spokesman said.

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