“If you were affected by this programme, please call this number or visit our website for advice.” Sound familiar? If you watched a drama, listened to a radio programme or tuned in to watch any of the soaps this year, then you probably heard a callout along these lines.
The BBC aired 456 of them in 2017 alone and has now revealed how many people got in touch with them for advice on sensitive issues including sexual abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM) and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The corporation directs viewers and listeners to its Action Line service and 431,000 people either visited the site or called in 2017, a huge increase on the 280,000 who did so in the year previous.
Of those, 127,000 were seeking for information and support surrounding sexual abuse, following dramas ‘Three Girls’ and ‘Apple Tree Yard’.
References to PTSD in ‘EastEnders’ led to 3,939 requests for information while a miscarriage storyline in ‘The Archers’ led to 7,024.
In a statement, the Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger has praised the corporation’s output for “really connect[ing] with audiences”.
“It’s important that we tackle difficult subject matters and I’m pleased that through the Action Line we’ve been able to give so many people vital information, help and support,” he said. “The BBC’s public service role means we’re uniquely placed to help audiences deal with these difficult issues.”
Keith Jones, BBC Audience Services, added: “It’s important that we continue to cover such difficult issues and that we can provide free off-air information to help those affected to find organisations willing to offer support and help. We hope it has helped the many who contacted us this year.”
Once on the phone, or online, the public can access advice and support from charities and organisations who are experts on the topics.
The BBC Action Line online services can be found here.