A Down’s syndrome charity has praised BBC police drama Line of Duty for casting an actor with the condition after the show was criticised over a line describing his character as a “local oddball”.
The broadcaster stated that the controversial line, spoken by Superintendent Ted Hastings, played by Adrian Dunbar, was not in reference to Terry Boyle having Down’s syndrome.
During the episode, Boyle, who is played by Tommy Jessop, was being questioned over the death of journalist Gail Vella, played by Andi Osho.
However, towards the end of the episode, Supt Hastings suggested another suspect was “more likely to be the gunman than the local oddball, that’s for sure”.
Many viewers took to social media to criticise the line, with some saying it made them feel ‘uncomfortable’, some saying they were ‘disappointed’ by it and others noting that it took place on World Down Syndrome Day.
However, the BBC stated that the remark was not a reference to the character’s condition but rather to the theory that he was stalking the journalist.
“Superintendent Ted Hastings’ comments were not in reference to the character Terry Boyle’s disability – Ted Hastings had never met Terry Boyle,” the broadcaster said.
“Hastings was looking only at the evidence against Boyle, namely the press cuttings of Gail Vella found in his flat.
“The word ‘oddball’ means an eccentric person and has no meaning or connotation of disability and Hastings was referring to the stalker/obsessed fan theory of Gail Vella’s murder.”
The Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) said it was “fantastic” to see an actor with the condition in the show.
“The most important part about Line of Duty was that one of the main characters in the drama has Down’s syndrome,” the DSA told MailOnline.
“To have a main character who has Down’s syndrome in such a primetime programme is fantastic to see. Some people have contacted us who were concerned about the language used by another character in the drama.
“The reality is that people who have Down’s syndrome sometimes do experience hurtful language and we all have a responsibility to speak up when we witness this. It’s important that we all continue our efforts for greater inclusion and acceptance.”
Picture: Terry Boyle, played by Tommy Jessop, is questioned over the death of journalist Gail Vella. (BBC).