Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 27 January 2015

EastEnders baby swap complaints

Samantha Womack's character Ronnie was embroiled in the Eastenders baby swap plot.
Samantha Womack's character Ronnie was embroiled in the Eastenders baby swap plot.

EastEnders bosses defended the show's baby swap storyline after it sparked more than 3,000 complaints to become one of the soap's most controversial plots.

Around 3,400 viewers have voiced concerns to the BBC about the episodes, in which tragic Ronnie Branning (Samantha Womack) lost baby son James to cot death on New Year's Eve before swapping him for Kat Moon's (Jessie Wallace) live newborn, Tommy.

Only one other EastEnders story has prompted more complaints, when Danielle Jones was killed in a car crash moments after Ronnie found out the teenager was her daughter. More than 7,000 viewers contacted the BBC about that episode, which was broadcast in April 2009.

Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood said: "We appreciate this is a challenging storyline and have taken care to ensure viewers were aware of the content in advance of transmission.

"We also provided actionline numbers at the end of each show, offering advice and support to those affected by the issues."

Monday's episode, in which Ronnie struggled to cope with the baby and Kat did not recognise the dead child as her own, was seen by 10.6 million viewers.

Viewers have been registering their complaints since the storyline was revealed in November. It is thought that online lobbying action accounts for some of the objections.

The soap has worked with the Foundation for Sudden Infant Deaths (FSID) to ensure the issue is portrayed accurately.

EastEnders chiefs toned down some scenes from its New Year's Eve episode after a preview screening.

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