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Line Of Duty Viewers Angered By Ted Hastings' 'Oddball' Comment About Down's Syndrome Character

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Line Of Duty Viewers Angered By Ted Hastings' 'Oddball' Comment About Down's Syndrome Character

The writers of Line of Duty have received a massive online backlash after Superintendent Ted Hastings - played by Adrian Dunbar - referred to a man with Down's Syndrome as a 'local oddball' in the first episode of series six of the BBC One show last night.

To make matters worse, the comment was made on World Down's Syndrome Day yesterday (21 March), making people even more angry at Jed Mercurio and his team for the use of the term.

Obviously, it's a fictional show, so characters aren't bound by the same conventions as people who are broadcasting on television live are.

Part of the nature of fictional shows is that characters are flawed and sometimes use pieces of terminology that they shouldn't, and that are unacceptable in real life.

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Just ask anyone who has ever seen a Quentin Tarantino film, right?

Adrian Dunbar as Ted Hastings. Credit: BBC One
Adrian Dunbar as Ted Hastings. Credit: BBC One

Anyway, fictional character or not, people are seriously p***ed at Ted Hastings use of the word on yesterday's show.

One person on Twitter wrote: "Massive fan of [Line of Duty] but describing the individual as the 'local odd ball' especially on World Down [sic] Syndrome day does not cut it!"

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Another person said: "Describing a character with Down's Syndrome as 'the local odd ball' is not f***ing ok."

A third said: "Especially on the day that it is but also on any day, the script writer of [Line of Duty] needs to reflect on the line referring to a suspect with special needs being referred to as the local odd ball."

Hastings called the character with Down's Syndrome a 'local oddball'. Credit: BBC One
Hastings called the character with Down's Syndrome a 'local oddball'. Credit: BBC One

Another vexed and perplexed Twitter user said: "Was all going so well until the script writers had to have Hastings describe the character with [Down's Syndrome] as an 'odd ball'...

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"Really? They had to do it. They just can't represent disabled respectfully."

Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio has responded to the backlash, tweeting: "'Oddball' has no connotation with learning difficulties. It described a loner, an eccentric.

"It's an equally fitting description of someone like Christopher Jefferies. The drama is using the term to refer to the Dando case, not to learning difficulties."

Responding to another tweet which claimed no police officer would use the term 'oddball' to refer to a suspect with a disability, Mercurio wrote: "We work with numerous police advisers. Line of Duty portrays policing with some of its failings.

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"The officer in question doesn't work with vulnerable people and hadn't met the suspect. 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, tbh) 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."

A BBC spokesperson told LADbible: "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."

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9.6 million people tuned into the return of Line of Duty last night. Credit: BBC One
9.6 million people tuned into the return of Line of Duty last night. Credit: BBC One

The show's sixth series premiere was a roaring success, with a record 9.6 million people tuning in to watch, that's more viewers than the show has ever had before.

The record was previously held by the final episode of the fifth season, which attracted a viewership of 9.1 million people.

This season sees stars Vicky Maclure, Martin Compston, and Dunbar return to the show, joined by Kelly Macdonald, who plays another police officer investigating the death of a TV journalist.

Featured Image Credit: BBC One

Topics: TV and Film, BBC, UK Entertainment, Line of Duty

Tom Wood
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