In Brief

Coronation Street in crisis as 'racist' joke sparks hundreds of complaints

Writers accused of trivialising slavery after Eva Price compares roots to those of Kunta Kinte

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Coronation Street is facing a possible investigation by Ofcom after one of its characters made a controversial reference to slavery.

During Monday night's episode Eva Price, played by Catherine Tyldesley, looked at her hair in the mirror during a visit to the hairdressing salon and commented: "I've more roots than Kunta Kinte!" She then added: "No idea who that is, by the way – just something my mum used to say."

Kunta Kinte was a central character in Alex Haley's 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Adapted for the popular TV series Roots, it tells the story of Kunta Kinte's life as a slave captured in Africa and forced to work on an American plantation. Haley said the character was based on one of his ancestors and the story was a mixture of fact and fiction.

The comment prompted a storm on social media, with 278 people complaining to Ofcom. 

Slavery Remembrance, which campaigns to remember the victims of the slave trade, suggested on Twitter that ITV would be unlikely to script "I've got more secrets than Anne Frank's diary."

An ITV spokesperson said: "We apologise if this dialogue has caused offence." However, blogger Delia-Rene questioned the use of the "if" in the statement.

One viewer, Kenroy Brown, quoted in the Daily Mirror, asked on Facebook: "How did these offensive words get past all the people that should have been aware of their historical content?"

Zita Holbourne of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts was similarly outraged. "There's a difference between the ignorance of a person on the street and that of a well-known show that should have its script proofed before airing," she told the Morning Star.

Trainee vicar Aaron Moffat-Jackman wanted an apology from ITV. Interviewed by the Manchester Evening News, he said: "What it did was trivialise a horrific, traumatic time for many people."

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