Samantha Womack: Baby swap plot was emotionally draining

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 28 June 2011
Samantha Womack

Samantha Womack

Samantha Womack found the 'EastEnders' baby swap plot ''emotionally and physically draining'', and made her decision to quit the BBC One soap when she realised she could no longer cope with her alter-ego's harrowing life

Samantha Womack found the 'EastEnders' baby swap plot "emotionally and physically draining".

The 38-year-old actress - who has played disturbed Ronnie Branning in the BBC One soap for the past four years - decided to quit the show when she realised she could no longer cope with her alter-ego's harrowing life.

She said: "I did find the storyline very, very difficult to play. It was draining emotionally and physically and by the end I was shattered. I worked out I'd been crying or screaming at work every day for six days a week for over two years. Can you imagine how exhausting and tiring that is?

"You're crying, weeping and telling your brain something awful has happened, so of course that is going to affect you and your body. My brain may know I am acting, but my body was doing a different thing. I needed to stop and find some peace, a bit like Ronnie."

The controversial storyline - which attracted some 9,000 complaints, prompting the BBC to bring the plot to an early end - saw Ronnie swap her dead baby James with of Kat Moon's (Jessie Wallace) son Tommy after he died of cot death, and then go on to pretend the tot was her own for months.

However, Samantha's troubled character has also had to deal with miscarriage, rape, incest and the death of her long-lost daughter Danielle throughout her time on 'EastEnders'.

But the mum-of-two - whose last scenes on the soap will air next week - admitted show bosses were under huge pressure to devise "high-risk storylines" to grab viewers' attention.

Speaking to Hello! magazine, Samantha added: "Unfortunately, because of the way television is going - and by that I don't just mean just soap, but reality and also drama - there is a massive consumer need for controversy and high-risk storylines. We may not like it, but the viewing figures go through the roof."

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