Belfast Telegraph

Womack 'not leaving' over baby plot

EastEnders star Samantha Womack's agent has insisted her decision to leave the soap has nothing to do with the controversial cot death storyline.

The actress, who plays bereaved mother Ronnie Branning, is bowing out of the soap as her contract reaches its "natural end".

Almost 6,000 complaints have been logged with the BBC over her character's high-profile storyline, which saw Ronnie lose a baby to cot death on New Year's Eve before swapping him with Kat Moon's live newborn.

It has now become one of the most complained-about EastEnders storylines, second only to the sudden death of Ronnie's daughter Danielle in a car crash in April 2009, which drew more than 7,000 objections from viewers.

The actress' agent Michael Wiggs said: "There's no truth whatsoever in any suggestion that Sam is 'quitting' EastEnders over the current storyline.

"Sam's contract comes to a natural end later this year and she will be taking a break from the show. This has been agreed with the producers for several months.

"Sam has had an incredibly happy and fulfilling time on EastEnders over the last few years.

"She has huge respect for the show, writers and producers and has thoroughly enjoyed playing such a complex role that has been involved in so many tough and challenging storylines."

The BBC has responded to the floods of complaints, insisting the BBC1 show did not intend to "cause distress or upset".

In a statement, programme chiefs acknowledged it was a "particularly emotive storyline" which was approached "with great care and attention", with the advice of experts.

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