Storyline ban for Womack children
Samantha Womack has banned her own children from watching her final scenes in EastEnders.
The actress described the controversial baby swap storyline as "draining emotionally and physically" and said she chopped off her long blonde hair and dyed it as soon as she finished playing the part of Ronnie Branning in the BBC1 soap.
The storyline, which saw Ronnie lose a baby to cot death on New Year's Eve before swapping him with Kat Moon's live newborn, is the most complained about in the show's history.
Almost 9,000 people complained, prompting bosses to bring the story to an early end in response to the audience reaction.
Samantha told Hello! magazine: "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 peace, a bit like Ronnie."
Samantha, who first appeared in the soap in 2007, said it was "liberating" to lose her character's distinctive blonde locks.
Her final scenes will be broadcast next week but her 10-year-old son and six-year-old daughter will not be watching.
She said earlier scenes, where her on-screen daughter Danielle died, had upset her son when he watched them, adding: "He saw it through a child's perspective so I learnt my lesson then."
:: Read the full interview in the latest issue of Hello! out on Tuesday.