Emmerdale bosses have defended the race-related storyline involving carer Ruby Haswell, insisting it will explore an ‘important issue’.

The show screened a scene in which village newcomer William, played by veteran actor Dudley Sutton, made a racist remark to Ruby Haswell (Alicya Eyo) which shocked some viewers.

But despite a backlash on Twitter and 15 complaints to the broadcasting regular Ofcom, a spokesperson for Emmerdale told newspaper The Voice it will be developing the storyline further, with William appearing in six more episodes.

William, played by Lovejoy star Dudley, was seen begrudgingly agreeing to hire Ruby as his new carer. He remarked: “Slaves weren’t you? You’ll be used to hard work.”

A spokesperson for Emmerdale said: “The storyline involving Ruby and William explores the important issue of prejudice and how it is dealt with.

“In subsequent episodes we see Ruby challenge William about his racism and confront him with the hurt that such language causes.

“In the end, through professionalism and determination she succeeds in making him aware that his remarks aren’t just casual ‘banter’, as he believes, but are deeply offensive.

“As a result he is seen to change his ways.”