Saturday, 17 July 2010

EastEnders: anti-Atheist bias

An e-mail I received this morning has drawn my attention to complaints of an ‘anti-Christian’ bias in the BBC ‘soap’ EastEnders.
My reaction, as someone who remembers when this long-running drama first reached our screens is, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
If there is any ‘religious’ bias in EastEnders, it is clearly directed almost entirely against atheists and agnostics.
Anyone watching the programme would realize it is meant to portray the lives of the ordinary unbelieving and half-believing folk of inner London. Yet even allowing for dramatic license, what we see is a deeply unattractive presentation of these people’s lives.
Almost no-one is every nice to anyone. Nobody smiles. Everybody seems to hate somebody. Their lives are a litany (if that is the right word) of destructive behaviours, punctuated by adultery, unfaithfulness and even murder.
It is almost as if the writers are saying, “This is how people behave when there’s nothing to live for and no moral anchor to prevent such outrageous actions.”
As such, this surely is a caricature of the ‘unbelieving’ life — and it has to be said, this is not least because no-one ever just sits in front of the telly watching EastEnders.
John Richardson
17 July 2010
Anonymous users wishing to paste in the comments box need first to select 'preview', then close the preview box. When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may be deleted.


  1. How nice to be able to agree with you that this is a story of people living unattractive lives. I suspect, however, that your analysis of cause and effect may be lost on most viewers. Any ideas how to reach them? (Somehow I don't think Rev will do it...)

  2. John,
    Years ago, when I lived in Canada, some of my friends who are children of Brits, got into watching East Enders. What struck me about the program was how it seemed to mirror, albeit an exaggerated way, the lives of so many lower and working-class people I knew at the time in Toronto. They, too, were almost all ordinary unbelieving or half-believing folk. Since we've lived here on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi these past nine years, and especially since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I see more similarities in almost all demographic groups here to the rapid growth of the unbelieving/half-believing.

  3. EastEnders is, of course, a soap opera that is primarily about entertainment, and only occasionally tries to present any kind of "message" to its viewers.

    The script writers do not survey real people in the East End of London and then try to depict a fictionalised version of that reality, so you can't draw any conclusions about cause and effect, since the causes and their effects are entirely the products of the script writers' imaginations.

    Amongst the main characters, there are only two who are overtly Christian and one of them is a serial murderer. You can argue that that presents a strongly anti-Christian message, but you can equally claim, as John described, that the show has a strong anti-atheist message. In the end, all it proves is that there's very little point in getting upset about any "message" you might think the programme is trying to convey.

  4. Years ago whenever Eastenders started my children were "banned" from watching it by me after having seen a bit of an episode when someone got hit on the head with a chair on the Christmas Day episode, I think it was. I didn't think it was suitable viewing for me as an adult never mind my impressionable offspring.
    Now they accuse me of hypocrisy (jokingly, I think) as about 6 months ago I started watching it and now follow it regularly. My children are grown up enough now to choose if they wish to watch or not - most of the time they are too busy with their own children to have time to. I haven't changed my views on the content of the programme,only that now I see it as more of a satire on "perceived" East London life. Certainly there are murders, adulteries, thefts, suicides and the rest in London as in any town or city but it is the concentration of such things within one small area that makes the whole thing unreal and, to me, humorous though black humour I should say. To suggest then that there is an "anti-Christian bias" or any other bias in the programme just seems like complaining for complaining's sake. (Of course I may have done that myself at some time in the past!)

  5. Reading some of the comments, I am reminded of the words of the Revd Sydney Smith, "It requires a surgical operation to get a joke well into a Scotch understanding."

    I was not really being serious!

  6. No surprise that people never smile in Eastenders, given their poor life expectancy. The BMJ has a detailed study on the matter

  7. I see very positive things in EastEnders. Christian things. The characters live in community - they know their neighbours and are involved in one anothers' lives, rather than living isolated lives in their own homes. People help one another out. There are often community gatherings at the pub or community centre. The characters get it wrong - as we in real life do -but they all want to love and be loved. The Sayed - Christian storyline has been a fantastic portrayal of the power of love. Zeinab, Tamwar and I suspect eventually Masood, will discover, through all the pain, that love is more important than anything else. Which is what Jesus said. Love God and love other people.

  8. Louis vuitton bags relates to their special material. What they used for their lv are not leather or other common materials, they use a special material called louis vuitton and add one more material called louis vuitton bag to enhance its water-proof. It is not easy fray.