EastEnders cot death complaints top 3,400

Kat Moon and Ronnie Branning The characters gave birth on the same day

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Around 3,400 viewers have complained to the BBC about an EastEnders storyline involving cot death and a baby swap.

In an episode on New Year's Eve, Ronnie Branning, played by Samantha Womack, swapped her deceased baby for the new born son of Jessie Wallace's character, Kat Moon.

Complainants have branded the hard-hitting plotline "insensitive", "irresponsible" and "desperate".

The complaints have been received since the storyline was revealed in November.

The majority have come in to the BBC since Friday's episode.

One midwife described it as "so far from realism it will be the last time I will watch this programme."

EastEnders executive producer, Bryan Kirkwood, said: "We appreciate this is a challenging storyline and have taken care to ensure viewers were aware of the content in advance of transmission.

"We also provided action line numbers at the end of each show, offering advice and support to those affected by the issues."

Monday's episode, in which Ronnie struggled to cope with the baby she had taken and Kat did not recognise the infant in the chapel of rest as her own, was watched by 10.6m viewers.

Joyce Epstein, director of the Foundation for Sudden Infant Deaths (FSID), told BBC Five Live that the charity advised on the issue of cot death but not on the "drama line".

She confirmed the charity had put the soap in touch with a woman who had gone through a similar bereavement and who had subsequently spoken to the actors in advance of filming.

Ms Epstein said parts of the script were changed following the Foundation's advice.

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