Line of Duty actor Tommy Jessop plays Terry Boyle) in Line of Duty (Picture: BBC)
The BBC has defended a remark in the first episode of Line of Duty’s sixth series, which saw a disabled character described as the ‘local oddball’.
The first instalment of the new series saw character Terry Boyle, who is played by actor Tommy Jessop who has Down’s Syndrome, called an ‘oddball’.
The episode which aired on World Down Syndrome Day focused on the investigation into the death of fictional journalist Gail Vella, played by Andi Osho.
Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) spoke about Terry’s possible involvement in the case, with viewers taking issue with the line of dialogue.
‘[Carl is] much more likely to be the gunman than the local oddball, that’s for sure,’ Ted Hastings said, referring to Terry.
Viewers took to social media to share their disappointment after the description was used.
The dialogue was spoken by Ted Hastings in the first episode of series six (Picture: World Productions/ BBC / Bernard Walsh)
‘Solid return for #LineofDuty but surprised to hear the phrase “local oddball” used when referring to a character with Down’s Syndrome – and on #WorldDownSyndromeDay. A misfire by the BBC on this occasion,’ one said.
‘I love #LineofDuty but the use of the phrase “local oddball” to describe a character with Downs Syndrome was not OK,’ another added.
The BBC has since responded to the criticism, saying that the phrase had ‘no meaning or connotation’ linking it to Down’s Syndrome.
In a statement, the BBC said: ‘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 the stalker/obsessed fan theory of Gail Vella’s murder. The dialogue has no meaning or connotation that relates to the character’s disability.’
The show’s creator Jed Mercurio also responded to criticism of the term online, saying that Superintendent Hastings had never met Terry and ‘doesn’t work with vulnerable people’.
Jed Mercurio defended the use of ‘oddball’ after episode one (Picture: PA)
He wrote: ‘“Oddball’ has no connotation for learning difficulties. It describes a loner, an eccentric.
‘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.’
Jed went on to say: ‘The ones dealing with the suspect used different, more appropriate language.
‘I’m not sure if you’re saying no police officer would use that term (some would – and way, way worse) or that TV drama can’t use a term that, for the reasons I’ve explained, just doesn’t have the intended connotation you’ve subjectively attributed the main reason being a reference to a real case of police mishandling of a vulnerable suspect.’
Meanwhile, Line Of Duty smashed BBC ratings as it returned on Sunday, raking in a mammoth 9.6million viewers overnight.
The episode also left viewers with many unanswered questions, such as how does Joanne fit into the ‘H’ puzzle and what is going on between her and Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure)?
Line Of Duty airs Sundays at 9pm on BBC One.
Credit: Original article published here.