EastEnders bosses come under fire for ‘sick’ pregnancy storyline of schoolgirl aged just 12 – while campaign groups defend the soap for showing ‘real-life drama’
- Teenagers gripped by storyline in which Lily Slater discovers she is expecting
- Her mother encourages Lily to keep baby, but father’s parents want abortion
The BBC has been criticised for screening a ‘sick’ EastEnders plot about a girl who becomes pregnant at just 12.
Teenagers have been gripped by the storyline in which Lily Slater discovers she is expecting and decides to have the baby – with millions watching clips on the social media app TikTok.
In the soap, Lily’s mother Stacey, played by Lacey Turner, encourages the schoolgirl to keep her baby, while the parents of the father – who is also 12 – try to get her to have an abortion.
Lily, portrayed by Lillia Turner, agrees to a termination, but changes her mind just before she is admitted to hospital.
Sources close to EastEnders say the dramatic scenes will continue with the youngster having the baby.
EastEnders schoolgirl Lily Slater, 12, with her mum Stacey
Lily with Ricky Mitchell, the 12-year-old father of her baby
However, one TikTok user said: ‘Twelve is just too young, it’s sick. While teen pregnancy is well known the amount of pre-teen pregnancies in the UK a year could probably be counted on one hand.’
Another critic posted, ‘Kids having kids’, while a third added: ‘Lily Slater is 12 – why is EastEnders not making her have an abortion?’
More than 1.4 million watched a scene on TikTok of Lily’s baby scan, with some viewers watching from as far away as New Zealand.
Young fans were also fascinated to find out who the father was, with more than a million watching footage of Lily revealing it was Ricky Mitchell, who is played by teen actor Frankie Day.
The BBC has been putting the episodes on its iPlayer service at 9am on the day they are screened instead of waiting for their terrestrial TV slots in the evening.
One parent told The Mail on Sunday how her son and a group of his friends skipped lessons to watch episodes of the drama in the school toilets.
However, while many viewers have criticised the idea of Lily keeping her baby, Andrea Williams, chief executive of the campaign group Christian Concern, backed the BBC’s anti-termination stance.
She said: ‘EastEnders is doing real-life drama.
Lily’s choice is not just about her body but about the body of the baby she is carrying – and it’s getting the nation to think about that. Brilliant, profound, culture-shaking stuff.’
In 2000, the soap’s ITV rival Coronation Street came under scrutiny for scenes in which Sarah-Louise Platt, played by Tina O’Brien, became a mother at 13.
The show’s bosses were forced to defend the plot and deny accusations that it was exploitative.
They said: ‘It is a fact that Britain has Europe’s highest teenage pregnancy figures, and Coronation Street is reflecting that and telling the story of one young girl.’
In 2021, it was reported that an 11-year-old girl gave birth in Britain after becoming pregnant when she was ten. Britain’s youngest mother was previously Tressa Middleton, from Scotland, who had her baby at 12 in 2006. But it was taken into care after she admitted it was conceived when she was raped by her brother, who was then jailed.
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