EastEnders defends cot death storyline

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 6 January 2011
Samantha Womack

EastEnders actress Samantha Womack

'EastEnders' bosses have sprung to the defence of the soap's controversial cot death storyline, which has resulted in nearly 6,000 complaints flooding in from shocked viewers

'EastEnders' bosses have sprung to the defence of the soap's controversial cot death storyline.

The traumatising New Year's Eve (31.12.10) scenes - which showed heartbroken Ronnie Branning (Samantha Womack) swapping her dead, lifeless baby with Kat Moon's (Jessie Wallace) newborn tot - have now prompted nearly 6,000 complaints from shocked viewers.

However, the BBC have been quick to defend the storyline, explaining it was not intended to suggest Ronnie's actions were typical of a bereaved mother.

A statement read: "It's important to note there is absolutely no inference that Ronnie's actions are in any way typical of a bereaved mother of a newborn baby.

"In her grief and desperation at the discovery that her much longed for baby has passed away, and finding herself in the exceptional circumstance of being alone with her neighbour's newborn son, Ronnie acted on impulse in the heat of the moment, without really knowing what she was doing, or considering the consequences or repercussions."

The broadcaster also explained 'EastEnders' scriptwriters sought guidance from a number of experts when deciding how to tackle the "emotive" issue.

Released on the BBC Complaints website, the statement added: "We appreciate this is a particularly emotive storyline and as with all such sensitive subject matters, we approached it with great care and attention, seeking guidance and advice from a number of experts in this field in order to ensure as realistic a portrayal as possible."

Despite actress Samantha Womack having announced her decision to quit the BBC One soap over the harrowing storyline, 'EastEnders' bosses felt troubled Ronnie - who has suffered a miscarriage and lost her daughter in the past year alone - was the only character who could have made the plot believeable.

The statement added: "We were careful to select Ronnie, who we felt was the only character capable of acting in this way in a believable manner, following all the difficulties she's experienced in her life and the emotional toll this has put on her."

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