BBC hit with 323 complaints after Line of Duty character is called ‘oddball’
Line of Duty has been slammed by hundreds of viewers after referring to a disabled character as the "local oddball".
In series six of the BBC crime drama, Terry Boyle, who has Down’s Syndrome, was referred to by the offensive monicker by Ted Hastings.
The BBC has said a total of 323 people complained about the line, in which actor Adrian Dunbar as Hastings talked down to Tommy Jessop’s Boyle.
What’s worse – the episode aired on World Down Syndrome Day.
In the show, Ted discussed Terry’s possible involvement in Gail Vella’s murder, and said: "[Carl is] much more likely to be the gunman than the local oddball, that’s for sure."
Terry was being questioned by police as a potential suspect in the case.
The BBC has since defended the controversial line after initially facing backlash from fans, releasing a statement in March which read: "Ted Hastings has never met Terry Boyle. In the scene, he is reviewing the evidence against the character.
"The word used in dialogue refers to an eccentric or loner, which fits into the stalker/obsessed fan theory of Gail Vella’s murder," it continued.
"The dialogue has no meaning or connotation that relates to the character’s disability."
Show creator Jed Mercurio also weighed in on the complaints, writing online that Ted hadn’t ever met Terry and "doesn’t work with vulnerable people".
"‘Oddball’ has no connotation for learning difficulties. It describes a loner, an eccentric. It’s an equally fitting description for someone like Christopher Jeffries. The drama is using the term to refer to the Dando case, not to learning difficulties," he said.
"The ones dealing with the suspect used different, more appropriate language."
He added: "We work with numerous police advisers. Line of Duty portrays policing with some of its failings.
"The officer in question doesn’t work with vulnerable people and hadn’t met the suspect."
But that didn’t stop fans taking to social media to slam the show for its insensitivity, with one writing: "Solid return for Line of Duty but surprised to hear the phrase ‘local oddball’ used when referring to a character with Down’s Syndrome – and on World Down Syndrome Day."
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Another social media user added: "Calling a character with Down’s Syndrome ‘the local oddball’ on World Down Syndrome Day doesn’t sit well with me.
"Great the actor was given the opportunity but language is key to acceptance and understanding."
Someone else dubbed it "a misfire by the BBC on this occasion".
Line of Duty continues Sundays at 9pm on BBC One
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