A spokesperson for Ofcom confirmed to DigitalSpy that the TV watchdog had received 180 complaints from viewers about the upsetting scenes, which were broadcast before well the 9pm watershed.
"We will assess these complaints before deciding whether to investigate or not," they said.ITV have defended the episode's, saying a message was broadcast beforehand warning viewers about the nature of the episode. "The threat of violence towards Aaron Dingle was signposted both before and during last night's episode, which included a pre-transmission warning of scenes some viewers might find upsetting," a spokesperson said. "The issue of violence in prisons is a real and highly topical one, and many viewers have praised the storyline for highlighting the homophobia some people face within the criminal justice system. "The actual violence shown towards Aaron was, however, carefully judged and suitably limited, given the scheduling of the programme." Aaron's agonising storyline was previously praised by LGBT charity Stonewall, who said: "Gay men experience homophobia in many different parts of their lives, whether at work, in school or in their local communities, and it’s great to see Emmerdale tackling the abuse that lesbian, gay, bi and trans people continue to face.
“It’s vital that all prison staff are trained in how to prevent and tackle anti-LGBT behaviour, and that all public institutions take pride in promoting diversity and inclusion.”Emmerdale continues at 7pm tonight (March 8) on ITV. More stories: BBC News’ James Longman on the reality of reporting from the Middle East as a gay man George Michael’s former partner Fadi Fawaz breaks silence after singer’s cause of death is confirmed