Most complained about soap scenes from past 5 years – EastEnders to Emmerdale

The four main soaps – EastEnders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Coronation Street – have aired huge scenes over the years, from drama, to heartache and some joy.

But sometimes, viewers just aren't on board with what unfolds on screen.

Viewers have even complained about particular episodes and scenes in the past if something has really riled them up.

In the UK, communications regulator Ofcom, The Office of Communications, regulate TV and other media, and give viewers a chance to speak out over anything that has offended them.

If something gets enough complaints, Ofcom can investigate whether regulations were met.

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We asked Ofcom what the most complained about soap episodes of the past five years were, and the results may surprise you.

From swearing, to murder and even a dognapping, here are the soap scenes that got the most complaints and why – with three of the named episodes airing in the same year.


Between 2015 and now, according to Ofcom complaints, the most complained about episode of EastEnders aired on January 12 2017.

The complaints were raised over a character swearing pre-watershed.

Sharon Mitchell called cheating husband Phil a "b*****d" after discovering he had got Denise Fox pregnant.

The episode received 116 complaints in total for "offensive language".

To be fair, fans may argue Sharon could have said a lot worse given Phil's betrayal.

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Over in Emmerdale, and an episode in September 2016 left fans complaining to Ofcom.

Ross Barton and Charity Dingle were caught up in a dognapping scam, plotting to steal a dog and hold it at ransom to make the owner pay up.

Viewers were outraged, taking to Ofcom in fear the scenes would encourage copycats.

The episode on September 26 received 448 complaints, while three of those were not about the plot.

When combined with the complaints made after the following episode, the scenes are said to have got over 550.


Back in 2017, Hollyoaks aired harrowing scenes which covered the issue of group self-harm, as Lily Drinkwell and her friends Peri and Yaz self-harmed.

The scenes were part of a huge and important new storyline on the show, which was long-running.

According to Ofcom, the episode on October 17 2017 received 58 complaints.

That said, Hollyoaks received much praise for tackling the storyline and raising awareness.

* Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]

Coronation Street

The most complained about episode on this list belongs to Coronation Street, airing on October 27 2017.

Pat Phelan was at the centre of a brutal double murder which aired across two episodes on the same day, both pre-watershed.

In the episodes, which technically form one episode as they centre on the events of the same day, villain Pat forced Andy Carver to shoot dead Vinny Ashford.

After kidnapping Andy earlier on in the year, he told him he'd let him go if he carried out the crime.

But in a dark twist, Pat then shot and killed Andy seconds after he'd killed Vinny.

The episode drummed up outrage from fans, with Ofcom receiving 546 complaints over "violent scenes".

That said, when comparing the above complaints to other shows from the same five-year period, they don't seem so bad.

In 2018, Celebrity Big Brother became the most complained about TV show of that decade with 25,232 complaints to Ofcom.

Following this was Loose Women, with an episode in August the same year getting 7,912 complaints.

Sky News, The X Factor, Love Island and The Wright Stuff also make the list.

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