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ITV defends the morality of hit series Footballers' Wives

LONDON - ITV has defended its hit drama 'Footballers' Wives', claiming that it has morals, after the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the show reflected everything that was wrong with British society.

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Reverend Rowan Williams said that the show, which features characters who think nothing of murdering for money or out of jealousy, is a realistic depiction of the society in which we live. But the show's executive producer Brian Park has denied that the antics of Tanya, Conrad and Amber are totally real.

Park said that the Archbishop had missed the morality that 'Footballers' Wives' has.

"There is a morality there that hasn't been picked up on by the Archbishop. We're offering a portal to a world of untold wealth and riches but we show that it comes with a price, that it doesn't buy happiness," Park told ITV.com.

However Eileen Gallagher, managing director of Shed Productions which produces the programme, told The Observer that she agreed with the Archbishop's comments.

"I think he has made a good point. We wanted to make 'Footballers' Wives' as basically an antidote to all the overblown celebrity we now see in society," she said.

Williams made the comments as part of his Easter message, calling on the public to reject the corruption and uncaring attitude of the programme and instead be charitable, fair and generous.

Writing in Outlook, the magazine of his diocese, Williams quoted from St Paul and told worshippers that they needed to look beyond fear and self seeking: "[It is] what you see on 'Footballers' Wives' a world in which charity and fairness, generosity, a sense of perspective about yourself are all swept aside."

He added: "There will still be much to work out but we shall get nowhere if we don't start."

Park, however, has said that viewers of the drama already rejected the values presented by the programme. "I think the public says 'thanks, but no thanks'. They can see the characters are not happy."

Williams has proven adept at winning coverage for his message by drawing on popular culture. He recently said that Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy, which shows God dying, should be studied as part of religious education in schools.

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