Is Eastenders’ Dot a ‘representative’ of Christianity?

Someone in the BBC  has described EastEnders’ Dot Branning as “an example of a Christian television character living out their faith in a day to day way”.

Dot Branning, who is widely known as ‘Dot Cotton’, is well known for her chain-smoking, having “an endless capacity for gossip” and hypochondria.

Danny Cohen said:

She is a single example of someone who lives out her faith on television in a charitable way.

Mr Cohen made the comment after he was challenged to identify ordinary believers on television who weren’t “freaks, geeks or antiques” at the Church and Media conference earlier this week.

But Revd Hayley Matthews, chaplain for MediaCity UK, didn’t agree

I don’t think Dot Cotton is very representative of Christians. I think a lot of people would be offended by that.

Earlier this month it emerged that the Corporation’s own research had found that is often regarded as displaying an anti-Christian attitude in its programming. Viewers say that the BBC uses “derogatory stereotypes” of Christians which portray them as “weak” and “bigoted”.

And I agree with Revd Matthews. I don’t think Christians are like Dot, and I don’t think MOST of us would want to be like her. Indeed, there is, or should be, far more to a Christian than some chain-smoking gossip queen. Christians are meant to be ‘Jesus people’ – that they walk and talk what Jesus did. We’re meant to be radical, accessible, loving, kind and everything else that goes along with it.
OK, I know we’re failures as Christians at times, and I’m sorry for when I don’t act like a Jesus person. But I think the BBC are quite blind when it comes to what most Christians are like – and this reflects in how society come to perceive Christians and, of course, Christianity. As I commented earlier in the week, Frontline Church are a great example of what Jesus loving Christians are like. And I feel that this is the ‘stereotype’ which should be aired on TV, not the mythological one found on Eastenders and other suchlike programmes.
Saying this, the BBC have upped their game in the Christian programmes that have been shown this year. Especially the Christmas and Easter programmes, which I’ve found to be very thought provoking, and have been the source of much conversation amongst my friends who would openly say that they aren’t Christians.
What do you think the stereotypes of Christians are today? Do we live up to those stereotypes? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @