EastEnders star Cheryl Fergison criticises soap for 'normalising violence'
The soap star thinks events in Albert Square have become too sensational.
Former EastEnders star Cheryl Fergison has criticised the soap for "normalising violence".
The 57-year-old actor - best known for playing Heather Trott in Albert Square - believes the soap has lost its way with sensational storylines that viewers cannot relate to.
Fergison told the Daily Star:"I am not the morality police but I do think EastEnders has lost its way a little.
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"I think people are craving for something more relatable and familiar rather than sensationalised."
She added: "Now it is all about how many people can be stabbed or shot in the Square.
"I don’t think that’s the right image for soaps to give. I think it is normalising violence to younger people.
"It needs to go back to basics and focus on community...
"I know the soaps strive to educate people on sensitive storylines like HIV, which are great. But then they will also do ridiculous storylines for ratings and I think why did you do that?"
Fergison starred in EastEnders as obsessive George Michael fan Heather between 2007 and 2012, before her character was murdered by Ben Mitchell. She returned to record a voice over as Heather in 2016.
She has previously said she would like to return to the soap as Heather's long-lost twin.
She posted on social media in 2020: "Ok so I’ve had lots of people asking if I could go back to @bbceastenders as Hev's long lost twin... so writers there's a challenge and actually there is a storyline that could defo make that possible...
"Remember Hev's mum ( she was a wicked one) and aunt babes terrible past story of selling babies !! ...if you would like to see this epic come back let @bbceastenders know ..."
EastEnders has suffered flagging ratings over the past few years.
BBC head of Drama Piers Wenger previously blamed the coronavirus pandemic — which has led to shorter episodes due to filming restrictions, as well as a variation in viewing schedules.
Last year the BBC announced a change of schedule, dodging a clash with ITV rival Coronation Street.
EastEnders now airs four nights a week, Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm, putting it head-to-head with ITV's other soap opera Emmerdale.
Read more: Jacqueline Jossa 'shuts down' rumours of EastEnders return
EastEnders has not won Best Soap at the British Soap Awards since 2015.
Watch: The latest EastEnders soap news