Jed Mercurio defended the use of the phrase 'local oddball' in Line Of Duty

Line Of Duty: Down’s Syndrome character Terry Boyle described as ‘local oddball’ and viewers are fuming

Writer Jed Mercurio has defended Ted Hastings using the term

The sixth series of Line Of Duty returned last night (Sunday March 21) with its highest-ever ratings, but not everything was rosy.

Despite a fabulously tense storyline, fans criticised the show for describing a character with Down’s Syndrome as “the local oddball”.

The description came on World Down Syndrome Day.

However, creator Jed Mercurio defended the inclusion of the phrase.

Terry Boyle in Line Of Duty
Terry in an interrogation scene (Credit: BBC)

Who is Terry Boyle in Line Of Duty?

The show’s core story revolved around the murder of journalist Gail Vella, and DCI Joanne Davidson’s attempts to track down her killer.

After a raid on a block of flats, they arrested ‘Ross Turner’ – a man with Down’s Syndrome and learning disabilities.

Read more: Who plays Terry Boyle in Line Of Duty and which series was he in before?

However, as Davidson’s interrogation of the man began it was revealed that his real name was Terry Boyle.

Terry (played by actor Tommy Jessop) has appeared in series one and five, and has been associated with the organised crime group.

Ted Hastings Line Of Duty
Steve and Ted discussing Terry Boyle’s case (Credit: BBC)

What did Ted Hastings say in Line Of Duty?

DCI Steve Arnott took his suspicions that Davidson is bent to his boss, Superintendent Ted Hastings.

Steve wanted to persuade Ted to formally open a case against Davidson and her team.

Carl Banks, Steve said, was the real suspect because he had a history of violent crimes.

Hastings said that Banks was “more likely to be the gunman than the local oddball, that’s for sure”.

It wasn’t long before outraged viewers took to Twitter to voice their opinion.

ED! contacted the BBC for comment. A spokesperson told us: “Ted Hastings has never met Terry Boyle.

“In the scene, he is reviewing the evidence against the character.

“The word used in dialogue refers to an eccentric or loner, which fits the stalker/obsessed fan theory of Gail Vella’s murder.

“The dialogue has no meaning or connotation that relates to the character’s disability.”

How did viewers react?

One viewer said on Twitter: “It’s great that Line of Duty is back.

“However, calling a character with Down’s Syndrome ‘the local oddball’ on World Down Syndrome Day doesn’t sit well with me.

“Great the actor was given the opportunity but language is key to acceptance and understanding.”

Local oddball’ being used to describe a man with Downs Syndrome on #LineofDuty – oh, and on #WorldDownSyndromeDay – really?!

Another wrote: “‘Local oddball’ being used to describe a man with Downs Syndrome on #LineofDuty.

“Oh, and on #WorldDownSyndromeDay – really?! Don’t know how that got passed through the script.”

A third commented: “Solid return for #LineofDuty.

“But surprised to hear the phrase ‘local oddball’ used when referring to a character with Down’s Syndrome – and on #WorldDownSyndromeDay.

“A misfire by the BBC on this occasion.”

What did Jed Mercurio say?

However, creator Jed Mercurio also took to Twitter to defend the use of the phrase.

After criticism from a police officer, Jed responded by referencing how suspect Barry George responded during the Jill Dando case.

“‘I was the easiest target on the case. They (police) could just say, ’We’ve got the local oddball’.” Direct quote from Barry George,” he said.

“‘Oddball’ has no connotation for learning difficulties,” Jed continued.

Read more: Line Of Duty: Fans convinced they’ve worked out H after The Caddy clue

“It describes a loner, an eccentric.

“It’s an equally fitting description for someone like Christopher Jefferies. The drama is using the term to refer to the [Jill] Dando case, not to learning difficulties.”

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