EastEnders star Samantha Womack has spoken out about filming the soap’s cot death tragedy, saying: “It’s been the most horrific four weeks of my life.”

The actress plays Ronnie Branning, who loses one-day-old son James, before secretly swapping him with Kat Moon’s newborn Tommy in an impulsive moment of shock and confusion.

She told Inside Soap magazine: “I couldn’t stop crying when we were filming the scenes where Ronnie finds her dead baby.

“I couldn’t switch off when I returned home each day. What Ronnie has been through is such a crushingly awful thing to even pretend might happen to you. I actually felt ill having to portray it.

“We used an expensive silicone doll, and it was so lifelike it upset a lot of people on set. We had to stop and take a break because it was too much.”

Samantha said she worried about how viewers will react to the heart-rending story, which screens on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“I love EastEnders and the fans enjoy it because it’s hardcore and bleak and times. But I also worry because it’s such a traumatic storyline.

“New Year can be a difficult time for some people, so I really hope it is taken in the spirit in which it’s intended – which is about producing dramatic television.”

Shane Richie, who plays Alfie Moon, said the story prompted him to keep checking on his two-year-old daughter Lolita.

“In all my years of playing Alfie, I’ve never brought my work home with me – but now I have,” he said.

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