The BBC has responded after a same-sex kiss aired on CBBC prompted a host of complaints from viewers.
The scene in question, part of a storyline on long-running Canadian show The Next Step, saw characters Jude and Cleo, played by Molly Sanders and Dani Verago, realising their friendship had romantic elements and subsequently kissing.
The scene made headlines last week with many media outlets referring to it as CBBC’s first same-sex kiss, which is incorrect, according to the statement released by the BBC.
The statement, which was posted to the BBC website’s complaints section, reads: “The decision to include this moment was taken very carefully and with much consideration, and came about after CBBC and Boatrocker (the production company who make the show) acknowledged that the series could and should do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people.
“This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be.
“We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude & Cleo’s developing relationship and I’m afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age.
“CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing, and it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like.”
The statement went on to point out same-sex relationships on the channel are not new.
“At Children’s BBC, we are proud to reflect all areas of children’s lives across our factual and fictional output,” it said.
“Same-sex relationships have already featured in other CBBC shows such as Jamie Johnson, 4 O Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad, and (contrary to what was reported in the press about The Next Step) the first same-sex kiss on CBBC was in fact in Byker Grove, many years ago.
“This moment in The Next Step is merely one story among a myriad of voices and experiences across our output.”
The BBC has stated it will not confirm how many complaints were made until the next biweekly complaints report.