The BBC has issued a full response to the growing controversy surrounding the baby-swap plot in EastEnders.
The BBC has issued a full response to the growing controversy surrounding the baby-swap plot in EastEnders. The BBC has received over 3000 complaints relating to the storyline in which Ronnie Branning (Samantha Womack) was seen to switch her baby with that of Kat Moon’s (Jessie Wallace) following the tragic death of the baby. The storyline began on New Year’s Day and has been the subject of much negative publicity with a further twist coming today when it was revealed that Samantha Womack had quit EastEnders – according to tabloid reports because of the storyline.
Below is the full BBC statement regarding the complaints.
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. EastEnders has a long history of exploring difficult issues, and the storyline regarding Ronnie and Kat follows in this tradition.
We acknowledge that for some members of the audience this storyline will have particular resonance and significance, however we can assure viewers that it’s not our intention to cause distress or upset, and we have ensured that key episodes are supported by the BBC Action Line in order for those affected by the storyline to be able to obtain information regarding sources of further help and advice.
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. On a wider sense, 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.
Over the coming weeks, we will see Ronnie and Kat each coming to terms with the loss of their babies, and explore how they re-build their lives in the wake of such tragedy. Viewers will see the situation resolve itself over the coming months.
We were careful to signal the nature of the content of the episodes to the audience in advance through publicity, programme billings, and continuity announcements.