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EastEnders working with Comic Relief

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Matt Humphreys | 10:51 UK time, Sunday, 9 January 2011

Spoiler alert - if you don't want to know details of future storylines you may decide it's best not to read on.

As part of an upcoming storyline EastEnders is working with advice from Comic Relief to tackle a problem that is faced by young women in the UK today - sexual exploitation.

Over the coming weeks, with her stepmother Bianca absent and with no-one else around, Whitney's life takes a downward spiral. Alone and and vulnerable she falls for the charms of an unscrupulous man who ultimately sexually exploits her for his own financial gain.

In line with it's long tradition of tackling social issues, EastEnders has been working with advice from charities funded by Comic Relief since last year to devise a storyline that explores a growing problem that faces many young women in the UK.

The issue is one that the charity has been working on for a number of years, both in terms of funding projects that help those who have been subjected to this devastating experience and raising awareness of the issue.

The storyline will culminate in a special ten-minute episode which is being featured as part of Comic Relief's Night of TV on Friday, 18th March.

Gilly Green, Head of UK Grants at Comic Relief, said: "It is vital that we continue to alert young people to the dangers if we are to stop them being exploited and the opportunity to work with EastEnders will make a huge audience aware of this issue.

"We have been working with the Eastenders script writers and some of the young women from projects we support to ensure the story reflects the reality of young people caught up in sexual exploitation."

Kevin Cahill, Chief Executive of Comic Relief, said: “We have worked over many years with EastEnders in all kinds of ways. It’s been a real pleasure this year to work together on a piece of serious drama, in the best traditions of public service, which will highlight an important issue."

Bryan Kirkwood, EastEnders Executive Producer, says of the storyline; "This is undoubtedly a challenging story for EastEnders to tackle, but it's also an important and topical one. The dangerous predicament that Whitney finds herself in is fast emerging as the awful reality facing many young women in Britain today.

Whitney, after all that she's been through over the past few years, is exactly the kind of vulnerable girl who would be targetted by the likes of Rob (the character who exploits her) . And as Whitney is a character the audience has invested in, we will hopefully engage the audience and raise awareness of sexual exploitation in the UK."

For more information on:

Comic Relief, go to: https://www.comicrelief.com

BBC Red Nose Day, please see: https://www.bbc.co.uk/rednoseday/


  • Comment number 1.

    I would hav perfered if they given this storyline to lauren becoz i would of like to see if it will bring tanya and max closer again.
    I hope the writers carefully write this storyline we dont want anymore complaint.
    Eastenders all the way!!!!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Yeah I think it would be interesting to know why Whitney was picked. I guess it makes sense with Bianca gone though.

  • Comment number 3.

    In my defence I would say what they're planning to do with the story line in conjunction with comic relief I personally say it would suit Witney because as whats been said what the type of charity is talking about, Whitneys already been there about the sexual exploitation because if you remember she was getting sexually harrassed - if you want to call it that by the Tony bloke who Whitneys step mum Bianca was seeing and I'm not blaming Bianca for not knowing until Whitney was 16 but Whitney has had alot of trouble and she does go to Bianca for help but since she's on maternity leave (even though she already had her baby in real life but they're slightly behind - hence the reason about her court sentence when she smaked the copper in the mouth), but in away I do say this story line is gonna worry Whitney though.

  • Comment number 4.

    Is there no scope to bring soaps on other channels in on this? (Coronation St for example)

  • Comment number 5.

    Can't wait for this storyline, i think it will suit Whitney, and it's great to raise awarness as this thing happens a lot all over the world everyday.

  • Comment number 6.

    Im NOT looking forward to this plot! I'm sure that it will spark MORE complaints!! what are you trying to say? because whitney's been abused once, she's just a sex offender now and will got out in revengeEeee!!??? crazy talk! sort it out

  • Comment number 7.

    Looks like a good storyline, I like how they're bringing Whitney into it again, 'cause it'll like bring back the memories of Tony.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    oh yeah and another thing, you gave a financial person at Comic Relief helping with the story line, what would that person kn ow about it? You had a sudden infant death syndrome charity working with you on the baby story and look where that ended up.

    You're going to lose viewers by the thousands every week, mark my words. As far as I know almost ten thousand complaints for the baby story alone, that's ten thousand people who now hate your show. How many thousand more are you willing to lose?

  • Comment number 10.

    Mentioning no names, but those who are clearly opinionated over the latest storyline should perhaps consider watching GOLD for the old programmes like Last of the Summer Wine. I think that the "story" in EE is very good and has been portrayed immensely by Jessie and Samantha. I lost my sister to Cot Death and i am fully aware of the devestation it causes to women and families alike. Also having been abused as a child, and suffered Domestic Violence from a ex partner. I have been through the mill and suffered 15 years of Mental Health problems, I think that EE does an excellent job when handling delicate issues.

    If people are that sensitive to these issues can i suggest that they ditch their Tv's all together, because the only way you will you are protected from any saddenning issues is to avoid it at all costs. Having had years of heartache and suffering I am one of the people who know exactly what it is like, Mo and Trevor brought memories back, but I know and accept it is afterall a STORY!!!!! Stop giving the BBC such a hard time. Move on with your life!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Missy sorry to hear that you have been through the mill and I hope you life gets better for you. Thank you for sticking up for Eastenders its about time someone who knows and has been through these situations did. I am a huge fan of Eastenders and it seems there are only a few people on here sticking up for it at the moment. I think we should all stick together and show are support for the best soap on the tv.

    Sarah x

  • Comment number 12.

    Just wanted to say after all the complain's surrounding the storyline with ronnie snatching the baby, it is good to say a storyline about a very serious topic surrounding Young Women, which is very comman and with the recent killing's of four prostitue's on the new's and the ispwhich muder's I hope this does justice, sad that whitney never has any happiness but I suppose this is the way the writer's want her life to be. Very beautiful Girl and must say looked very hot on tv last night. Go Shona.

  • Comment number 13.

    Its always Whitney :(

  • Comment number 14.

    So long as it isn't made OTT as the baby storyline (a line I thought interesting until I heard how long it'd be drawn out and perhaps a bit over-dramatised with the swapping (next time have them both in hospital and do the switch there: it's far more believable)) then this is another storyline that will bring about awareness of the real trouble vulnerable people can find themselves in.

    Just, please, don't let that new writer ruin a good opportunity.

  • Comment number 15.

    I did origonally view the baby swap storyline as wrong...then I realised...ITS A SOAP!!!! ITS NOT REAL!!!! I mean i Know they ARE adressing a really important issue and it does happen but i just dont get what althe fuss is about and this whitney storyline is the same coz it does happen and they will ACT it well coz thats all it is ACTING!!! I dont think they could have chosen a better person for the story
    EE 4EVER xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Comment number 16.

    Well done Eastenders for giving Whitney this part. She deffo desearves it because she is so talented and needs a big story! It is also good you are using somone of your younger cast rather than all the grown ups which it is at the moment. Bring in some more teenagers because you are losing your teenage crowd! Leon, Peter, Lucy, Libby, Chelsea, Zsa Zsa and so on have all gone recently ???

  • Comment number 17.

    I think she should have another really good storyline. I want her to have a evil storyline- she should be the teenage villan on Albert Square. she could be the Dirty Den- Lucas Johnson- Janien Malloy- Andy Hunter- Archie Mitchelle all mixed into one- she could be the teenager from hell. Mureder- Teenage pergnecey- theft. she is a BRILLIANT actress she should me given a good storyline.
    Love you EastEnders xxxxxoooooxxxxx make it interesting xxxxx
    BTW She ain't got NO teast in men LOOOL

  • Comment number 18.

    Totally agree I want whitney to be like the new janine, damaged physcopath side really evill bascially like a villian with the dark hair and beautiful big blue eyes she could be like a very mysterious sexy villianious who is really evil and sly lies, steals, takes other people's men homewracker I want her to be the female version of coronation street bad boy David platt. I want her past to relect in her actions like I could see her suddenly turn really nasty with the abuse as a child and everything and try to kill everyone even her family, and everyone just like hates her please producers no more nice whitney Shona would be so good as a villian, I would love it as a big fan of her's evil Whitney bring it on show us her bad side because if she was alway's a nice girl it would be boring I have thought about this last Year if shona is staying making her a proper nasty evil bad girl, who is even nasty to children and can't love propley make her like tracy barlow Please I love a good soap bitch!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    i think it will be a gd storyline 4 whitney coz all the memories of tony will come bk. xxx

  • Comment number 20.

    Aliie becuase if Tony might come back and she is going 2 have the baby I think that Tony might get mad about that eny ways less get on with Carol.. She is going 2 be pregnaet so is whitney so i fell sorry for bianca

  • Comment number 21.

    Helloo,, this is eastenders_greatest_fan1's best mate!!! I think that this story would be reallyy good as she has already been through it with Tony. I hope the veiwers don't reply with a negative attitude as they did with the Ronnie 'n' Cat storyy!!! LOVE U EASTENDERSSS XXXXX

  • Comment number 22.

    I think Whitney was picked for this storyline as young people who have been sexually violated can often not spot what can be spotted by people who have not...this will no doubt be part of the message.

    It is known in the square what poor Whitney went through and therefore someone who knows what they are doing could AGAIN manipulate her into thinking that she is cared for...with unfortunately devasting consequences.

  • Comment number 23.

    Missy, as usual people are missing the point here. I am very sorry for your life but it's nothing compared to what I've gone through. Yes I have been abused, all my childhood, I have been badly beaten by an ex husband to the point of having a baby kicked out of me. I am at the moment suffering from MS, I am also at the moment having to deal with caring for a young autistic man (my son). Sad, eh? Yeah well too bad, we have to move on and get on with it.

    The point here is not the subject matter of the story lines, it's the time they're on. Why can't people get it into their heads that Eastenders is on before the watershed.

    I see my other comment got moderated because I hit a nail on the head. I said Jody and Poppy were doing a sad copy of that sad show, The only way is Essex. They were, and they were rubbish at it, my point was that it would have been fine if Jody had always spoken like that.

    What is really annoying me right now is that they give you space for your opinion, then hide the post that really matters.

    I wonder if they'll ever censor the show as much?

  • Comment number 24.

    Great story line..! I can see why Whitney was picked, because of Biancas absence. I can picture the story in my head, it might spark a few more complaints from those who don't know what a story is!! But anyways lets forget about them and concentrate on the story line. I think its gonna be very good, just PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS!..



    Eastenders forever! :D x

  • Comment number 25.

    I love whitney she is one of my fave characters why did u pick her of all the girls in eastenders ! u should have picked kim cuz that id love to see !!!! :D

  • Comment number 26.

    The whole of this raises some very serious questions about just what Eastenders is and what it's there for.

    Fundamentally it's TV entertainment - it's a drama - it's fiction. Any 'raising awareness' should arise accidentally out of the stories it portrays and the programme goes way beyond its brief to actually engineer story lines specifically to raise awareness of any social issue.

    Well written drama, by its very nature, is not realistic for all sorts of reasons. It has to catch the awareness of the viewer and hold them. If you were to actually depict real life accurately, it would be incredibly boring - but that's the function of documentary and not drama.

    And so I'm totally amazed that a charity with the stature of Comic Relief would have anything to do with a soap. They must realise that this up-coming storyline will be sensationalistic and, in the true nature of soap, totally unbelievabe even if it is entertaining and gripping.

    This being said, it will probably give a wildly unrepresantative image of the issue that they are trying to highlight and could well be counter productive in rasing funds for this in particular issue and Comic Relief in general.

    In fact, as Comic Relief raises and distributes funds for a lot of projects and charities worldwide and not for any one project, I can't see the connection between this effort and their fundraising at all. Why favour this one in particular? This is deeply disturbing.

    As for a 10 minute drama on Red Nose night... Sorry, but isn't the whole thrust of COMIC Relief meant to be comedy, lot's of comedians and actors doing funny things to keep people glued to the screen and so keep on donating. If there is one thing that will make me change channel it will be 10 minutes of turgid, poorly written and directed EastEnders drama.

    Kevin Cahill, Chief Executive of Comic Relief, says: " because it occurs on the night of Comic Relief, it will actually help raise crucial funds to help young women caught up in it."

    Sorry Kevin but are you saying that you are favouring charities working in this area over others? Have you no shame in turning a TV drama into yet another fundraising arm of Comic Relief?

    Not only does this make me even less likely to donate to Comic Relief, but even less likely to continue to watch Eastenders.

    Oh... and this is not a rant against the subject of the storyline per se. It seems pretty par for the course in today's doom-laden, dreary Eastenders.

  • Comment number 27.

    good good something else needed 2 happen i dont like the baby stuff much its a little sad!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Aawww poor Whitney! I don't see why it can't be someone else, seeing as she's already had a tough time with Tony. Surely this is going to tip her over the edge, as well as bringing in more complaints...

  • Comment number 29.

    I think this will be a great story line and people WHO DONT like it should take there head out of the sand because its what happens over the news and other soaps/ soap type programs have. Stop moaning and grow up..
    I think this should def go ahead =D

  • Comment number 30.

    Simple. Dont like the storylines? Dont watch. TV is full of hard stories, hell life is full of much worse! You cant go censoring everything, it just doesnt work like that.
    If you dont like the topics then dont watch them. Stop wasting your lives moaning about somethinga nd then still watching it! Its a soap, a television show. Not real. Just as insane as the people who shouted at the actress who plays Ronnie in the street, detach fictional televisoons shows from reality or dont watch.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think that people forget Eastenders is a soap! dont get me wrong i love the show really i do but dont forget guys its not real ... if it was boring and it didnt have dramatic storylines it would be a snooze fest ! they have chosen whitney to do this particular storyline as she is vunerable at the minute with the whole Bianca being away and Carol and Connor (ewww)! i think the writers and producers work hard ! and that you should give them a little credit for keeping the show up to date with shockers of storylines !! Eastenders ftw :)

  • Comment number 32.


  • Comment number 33.

    Anyone think she is just sexy I do!!! If I was a boy I would fancy her phowar!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    Good on the enders writers 4 giving this storyline 2 Whit. Shona deserves it as being a very good actress!

  • Comment number 35.

    The next story line with whitney should be good and hopefully she will become a mini Janine in time for Bianca to be released from prison.

    and where have all the teenagers gone? Lauren, Abi, Jay, Ben and Whitney are the only ones left :(

    Hopefully a new family will join the square with a villan dad, family destroyer mum, and a couple of partying teens, just to liven the show up again, after all the murder, illness, death, heartbreak and baby troubles of the past year. Eastenders needs a teenage Kat to liven up the square and Vic! :)

  • Comment number 36.

    i think they should bring benica back and benica and her mother carol should have a fight over whitney being left out of the family....

    i think whitney and jay should be a couple and ben and abi and they should bring in a boii for lauren and they should make a group together....

  • Comment number 37.

    Some people are moaning and complaining about this story line and it hasn't even started get so just STFU most of you.
    Its not like it is encouraging you so become a prostitute is it? No.
    I fully support eastenders yet again,
    And EastEnders are actually gaining alot more views since the baby story.

  • Comment number 38.

    Last night's episode was great, and very well acted. I would have liked to have seen more of how Rob gained Whitney's trust and she came to become reliant on him. I hope tonight's 10 minute episode is as good. This is a growing issue with young girls in the UK, some under 16. Its happening all over the UK, not just in London.

  • Comment number 39.

    friday 18th of march , EeastEnders should of bee long because i was really enjoy today one ! and i can't wait to monday the 21st march ..

  • Comment number 40.

    I dont watch eastenders and do believe that they shouldnt have to worry about the issues, however I do mind when those issues are shown early.
    I was watching comic relief with my nearly 8 yr old boy and the special of eastenders come on with the drug taking and quite scary situation.
    If this had been shown later when it switched over to bbc2 thats fine but on bbc1 when they know loads of children would watch is inappropriate. Once again I have no issue with some of the subjects they just need to be shown at appropriate times. I know it was close to the 9pm watershed but still it was comic relief with children watching.

  • Comment number 41.

    Ok..I have only registered to this website to comment on this issue. This is because I was DISGUSTED to see that 152 people complained about this storyline.

    I get that the whole running of with someones baby was wrong and I totally agree that it shouldn't have been aired, however this story is completely different.

    I work for the Body shop and apart of the shops current campaign is Say no to sex trafficking of children and young people. Every customer I serve at work, I speak to them about sexual exploitation and ask them to sign the petition that we have with ECPAT to get the laws changed and introduce better protection. Every now and then, I get arrogant people saying "I'm not signing that" blah blah blah, which not only makes me angry but makes me wonder how they can sleep at night.

    Yes we don't want to hear about it, and its not exactly the greatest form of entertainment. However what I will say is that this was not aired for entertainment. It was aired for awareness, and what people need to realize is that this happens everyday! And people we know and love could be at risk and can or are vulnerable enough to have this happen to them. We all know at least one person that is vulnerable to exploitation: sexual or otherwise.

    So to all those that are to arrogant to see this; stop complaining about things you do not understand; and take the time to open your minds and listen.


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