A spokesperson for the popular BBC One soap, EastEnders, has responded to JDRF concerns regarding a reference to diabetes in a recent episode, making assurances that researchers and scriptwriters will speak with JDRF before any future references to diabetes.
This was strongly condemned by a number of JDRF supporters and the type 1 diabetes community on social media.
JDRF made immediate contact with the BBC and a spokesperson responded to our message to reassure us that more care will be taken in future to avoid offence. JDRF has offered to meet with researchers and scriptwriters in person at any time to ensure such cases of insensitivity do not reoccur.
A number of supporters also made contact with the BBC to make their concerns clear. Many received a reply indicating that for the ‘sake of drama’ it is important characters in the show express views that many might not agree with. In many replies the representative reiterated that the comment was meant as a “joke” by what they called a ‘facetious character’ who is not presented as an authority on diabetes.
In 2015 the BBC One drama The Syndicate featured a story arc where a character who was presented as living with type 1 diabetes was treated with insulin after appearing to have a hypo, which in real life would be extremely dangerous. JDRF contacted the BBC after this storyline with our concerns. The writer of The Syndicate, Kay Mellor responded to the controversy reiterating that the programme was ‘in no way a medical drama’.
JDRF exists to find the cure for type 1 diabetes. But it also committed to raising awareness of the condition, which includes working hard to prevent misrepresentations of the condition and ignorance of the causes and effects.