Bryan Kirkwood - latest on Kat and Ronnie storyline

Friday 7 January 2011, 15:23

Lou Lou

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In response to some of the comments regarding the current Ronnie and Kat storyline, Executive Producer Bryan Kirkwood has written the following blog post about the decision to conclude the storyline in the Spring:

EastEnders has a long tradition of dealing with social issues in a powerful and dramatic way. In its 25 years it has tackled many taboo subjects from HIV to paedophilia, matching drama with public service in a way that has continually kept it as one of the most talked about shows on television.

When we embarked on the story of Ronnie and Kat it was very much with this in mind. We researched extensively to make sure we would be both factually correct and emotionally truthful.

We received enormous help from charities, health professionals and bereaved parents themselves, who went out of their way to advise the story-liners, writers and actors. Our aim was - and still is - to tell a strong story that would, in the telling - raise the profile of Cot Death in the UK.

It's clear that we've managed to do this, and that traffic to the FSID's website has increased by over 500%; but we are also mindful of the fact that in doing so, sections of our audience have found the storyline challenging.

EastEnders never sets out to upset its audience; not only would it be counter-productive, it would be a breach of a long-established trust that we can deliver truthful stories that inspire debate in a way that's acceptable to a family audience.

Although we have had complaints we have also had positive responses from people who have been through the experiences we are currently dramatising who feel we've done this and have contacted us to offer their backing.

A large portion of audience are watching and being supportive of the storyline so we owe those viewers the opportunity to continue to engage with it and see the storyline through to it's rightful conclusion.

Whenever we embark on a story at EastEnders we always leave it open-ended to monitor and listen to audience reaction. With this in mind we are going to bring the story to a close on screen in the Spring.

As the story progresses and Kat is reunited with her child, we hope to explore the impact of the tragic events that have befallen the characters in a way that is powerful, but true to the best public service tradition of the show.

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    Comment number 1.

    i expect it would have bee the next christmas storyline

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I personally think the whole thing's been blown out of proportion.

    The cot death, and the emotions of the characters involved was spot on... But we're talking about a soap here and the drama over the baby swap is exciting, interesting and - yes - hard to watch, but it's a television, fictional drama. Any other character, it would have been far fetched, but Ronnie has motives and I applaud Eastenders for coming up with something interesting.

    I'm sure I'll get flamed, but I personally think well done. You covered a sensitive issue pretty well, and came up with a story that fits the characters... I imagine most of the people complaining probably didn't even watch the show....

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I think that part of the nature of the internet age is that people are easily able to mount complaint campaigns, and receive outsized attention that is not necessarily a reflection of how the majority of the audience feels.

    From what I have seen, this storyline is very sensitively handled, and beautifully acted. I haven't seen anything sensational about it. Yes, it is upsetting to see characters we like (or even love) not get what they want - we want them all to have happy endings. But I understand that happy endings would get boring pretty quickly. How many happy endings did Shakespeare write?

    And truly, when we look a why we feel the way we do, it is because the show (the writers and actors) have created these characters that we care about. If one watches the show and cares about the characters, one should trust the show to continue telling their stories.

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    Comment number 4.

    Thanks for this blog, Bryan. I don’t think EastEnders have gone “too far” with this storyline. The show has always been known for its dark and gritty storylines, it has been since it started nearly 26 years ago. EastEnders isn’t supposed to be a representation of real life or life in the East End of London. Look at the stories there’s been over the years, Murders, rapes, HIV, just to name a few. As I said, it's not meant to be representational of real life. I think both people who’ve complained and people who aren’t enjoying the story need to realise what's being portrayed is not what an average woman would do if they lost a child to cot death. They are trying to show Ronnie, who has completely lost the plot and swapped babies in a moment of desperation. Ronnie has had the toughest life in soapland, without a shadow of a doubt. 3 dead children, raped and abused by her father when she was younger, her mother walked out on her and her husband has slept with and has kids with her sister and cousin! It seems the story will conclude in April, which is interesting as Sam Womack finishes filming in May, meaning she's on-screen until July, meaning Ronnie may be around for a couple of months after Kat finds out the truth. Also, following Ronnie's departure from the square, the aftermath and consuequences of Ronnie's action will effect Kat and Alfie for some time to come.

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    Comment number 5.

    That is great news. The sooner this storyline ends the better. This might be fiction but it has affected people and I read today that poor Sam was being verbally abused on the street.
    My heart goes to her.


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