09/02/2018 09:08 GMT | Updated 09/02/2018 10:25 GMT

'Emmerdale': Ross Barton's Acid Attack Storyline Attracts Over 200 Ofcom Complaints After Dividing Viewers

'Seriously cannot believe Emmerdale just did that.'

‘Emmerdale’ has attracted over 200 Ofcom complaints, after airing a controversial acid attack storyline. 

The ITV soap split fans right down the middle after Ross Barton became a victim of a horrific attack during Thursday’s (8 February) episode. 

A spokesperson for broadcasting regulator Ofcom confirmed to HuffPost UK they had received 228 complaints in just over 12 hours. 

Ross Barton was the victim of an acid attack

They will now have to assess the complaints before deciding whether to investigate.

The divisive plot saw Ross - played by Michael Parr - left writhing in pain after Debbie Dingle’s plan to get revenge on the conniving Joe Tate went wrong. 

Debbie had paid Simon to “mess up” Joe, but there was a case of mistaken identity when he ended up throwing acid in Ross’s face. 

Some viewers slammed the show as “irresponsible” on Twitter for airing the attack before the 9pm watershed, after the episode went out at 7pm.

However, many people praised the soap for raising awareness of an issue that is currently on the rise, with many also responding to accusations it was irresponsible to air the scenes: 

Others shared concerns about the lasting impact of the plot going forwards: 

When contacted by HuffPost UK, an ‘Emmerdale’ spokesperson insisted the plot had been tackled responsibly, with the production team carrying out thorough research beforehand. 

“‘Emmerdale’ has a long track record of tackling difficult and topical storylines and the unprovoked acid attack upon Ross is another example of this,” they said. 

“We take our responsibility seriously when portraying what happens in these circumstances. Consequently, the storyline was researched thoroughly with medical experts at Pinderfields Hospital.

“For the sequence following Ross’s attack we adhered carefully to the NHS guidelines about how to help people who are the victim of an acid attack.

“We also specifically researched this story with one particular victim who felt it important to share what happened to him with the ‘Emmerdale’ production team.”

The comments echoed those made by actor Michael Parr, who recently told Digital Spy: “It’s a big responsibility and one that I was very nervous about taking on. I know it’s a reality for some people and it’s so important to get it right and do the story justice.

“The ‘Emmerdale’ team have done extensive research and we really want to raise awareness of the devastating consequences an attack like this has on a person’s life.”

The storyline comes after the London’s Metropolitan Police released statistics in November last year that revealed the number of acid attacks in the UK had surged by more than 500% between 2012 and 2016.

Just 73 were recorded in 2012; four years later, they hit a high of 469.

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