An EastEnders storyline featuring a baby being removed from a teenage mother by social services has been branded 'disgraceful' by the body that represents social workers. The head of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) accused the BBC of being 'too lazy and arrogant to get it right' over the story. The plotline, which saw teenage mother Lola Pearce's baby Lexi taken from her, prompted a reaction on Twitter. But the BBC said it had not intended to portray social workers in a negative light, and there was no suggestion the worker's actions arose from 'anything other than a genuine desire to protect Lexi'. Bridget Robb, acting chief executive of BASW, said: "Social workers don't want to hear patronising excuses from the BBC about the use of dramatic licence. "A badly written and poorly acted portrayal of a car mechanic does not have the same effect on the public as a poor portrayal of a child protection expert. "Social workers have a difficult enough job as it is. Unlike the writers and actors on EastEnders, they have to step through those front doors that no one else wants to step through, and they do it on a daily basis, to protect children, not to target families." But an EastEnders spokeswoman said they had worked with a social worker on the storyline, which led to 556 complaints over the last two and a half weeks. The BBC said in a statement: "It is not our intention to portray social workers in a negative light. Whilst the audience has seen how much Lola loves Lexi, and seen her behaving responsibly in caring for her baby, her social worker has not. "Each time the social worker visited, she regularly saw worrying behaviour that concerned her... we believe the audience will have understood why she had to act quickly to remove Lexi when Lola was arrested for assault."
Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.
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