More EastEnders‘ viewers are complaining about the soap’s harrowing baby swap storyline before it screens.
The show’s New Year plot sees distraught Ronnie Branning, played by Samantha Womack, lose her newborn son James to cot death before exchanging him for Kat Moon’s (Jessie Wallace) new baby Tommy.
Angry mothers who have lost children to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have branded the plot ‘hurtful’ and “‘ridiculous’.
Ailsa Hichens, 38, who lost her nine-month-old daughter Martha last New Year’s Eve, told the Sun: “This ‘twist’ is ludicrous – and hurtful.
“People who watch it could look at mothers who have lost a child and think that they would snatch their baby. It’s distressing.”
Show bosses have edited some of the more graphic scenes from the episodes following a preview screening.
An EastEnders insider told the newspaper: “Bosses are keen to assure viewers that they’re not portraying Ronnie’s behaviour as typical of bereaved mothers.
“Regular viewers know she’s lost two children before this tragedy with James. She acts in a state of grief and shock.”
The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths also said in November: “We were pleased to be consulted by Eastenders about the emotional effects of a baby’s death on the family and community and the practical aspects of a multi-agency investigation. The actors involved have been at great pains to perform their roles with as authentic an understanding as possible of a family’s experience.”