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Call for Eastenders' Asian family to be axed as rating nosedive
30th July, 2004

A crisis of ratings has brought Eastenders' Asian family, the Ferreiras, under intense criticism this week when the Mirror newspaper published a poll showing many fans were being turned off by 'boring' storylines. The family were seen as especially dull and calls were made for them to be axed from the show.

A lead editorial on the Mirror stated: "The Ferreiras' father, Dan, was probably not just the worst character in soap, but the most annoying, unlikeable person on all television. Inveterate gambler, Ash and daughter Kareena are mere ciphers while Adi is just weird - like a gay version of a character from Rainbow."

"Ronny Ferreira, meanwhile, was no more than an updated version of a previous character, DJ Lenny, and presided over the most boring storyline in EastEnders' history when viewers spent several weeks watching him lying in bed growing a beard (ie waiting for a kidney transplant)."

"The fact that the Ferreiras still haven't been axed shows how indecisive and complacent the show's executives have become," the paper added.

The Executive Producer for the BBC soap, Louise Berridge, defended the Ferreiras saying that the unexpected departure of Dalip Tahil had caused a lot of problems. She admitted also that the family had not been as successful as they had hoped.

"It's quite true, however, that the Ferreiras have not been as successful as we had hoped. I think in retrospect we made a mistake in giving their entrance such a fanfare as a New Asian Family. Viewers traditionally take a long time to adapt to anyone new - even the Slaters were universally hated for months after their first appearance - so it was wrong to emphasise what was different about this family from the start," she said.

She added: "Even so, we had a terrific first story for them, which was to have culminated in a huge, action storyline to mark the exit of their father."

"However, the sudden removal of actor Dalip Tahil, for reasons beyond our control, meant that the story had to be abandoned quickly - and 40 scripts rewritten on the spot. The result was the transplant story, which I have to admit did go on for far too long, especially when our biggest story in this period had also to be abandoned because of the pregnancy of Kacey Ainsworth. The writers and production team did their very best under these circumstances but I would be the first to admit the end result was not our finest hour."

"I hope that viewers will not hold this against the Ferreira family and will be prepared to watch the next stage of their stories with an open mind. This is a very talented bunch of actors, who've had to put up with a lot of stick for problems which have not been of their making. Viewer response to their lighter material was very favourable and I am confident the Ferreiras will regain their popularity."

The family continues to be popular with the Asian community however. A poll on radio station BBC Asian Network yesterday found that 75% of respondents wanted the family to stay. There was agreement however that the soap no longer had the gripping storylines it once did.

Earlier this month it was revealed that the family was to be spiced up by moving a hooker into their home. Jemma Walker will re-appear as Sasha but this time around is taken in by Adi (Ameet Chana), and soon, all the Ferreira men take a shine to her and start to get close.

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