Is this really the right way for a soap to deal with cot death?

Jan 2 • Featured, Uncategorized • 709 Views • 18 Comments on Is this really the right way for a soap to deal with cot death?

All new mums know what it’s like to worry about cot death; to check your baby’s breathing and to make sure they’re OK; to feel their neck and chest and make sure they’re not too hot or too cold; to keep the baby monitor close at hand.

Unfortunately, in my opinion EastEnders has taken a sensitive and important issue and turned it into farce.

It was bad enough that Ronnie didn’t call an ambulance when she realised her baby wasn’t breathing. But the fact that within about five minutes (fast, even in soapland) she’d stolen another baby, placing her own lifeless child in the poor mite’s cot, was a step too far, I think.

OK, it’s not real life. But the fact is that millions of people watch EastEnders and instead of seizing the opportunity to address the trauma of cot death, to be responsible and educate, the producers are insulting our intelligence. Not least because apparently neither Kat or Ronnie’s dopey relatives can tell the difference between one baby and another.

I’d love to know what you think.

*For more information about cot death, help and support, please click here.

written by Liz Jarvis

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18 Responses to Is this really the right way for a soap to deal with cot death?

  1. Jacquerbie says:

    Ridiculous – on two levels – everyone would know if it was a different baby to their own. Secondly there is no chance that a day old baby would be left upstairs crying on it’s own when it’s mum was in hospital!! Ridiculous and insensitive.

  2. Ed says:

    I completely agree …. Making a farce out of a serious and deeply saddening issue.

  3. grace says:

    i thought i was the only mother that felt so saddened by this farce.i have a five year old and a five week old baby.one of the things that keep mothers awake or gives us sleepless night are the nudging fear of cot death.i think eastender should have done better justice to this subject rather adding to the fear of getting your child swapped for another.

  4. Greg says:

    Completely agree. Do the writers of Eastenders really believe that the viewing public will find the misery of a woman losing a child for the 3rd time entertaining? This is sickening rather than entertaining and I won’t be watching Eastenders again for a while.

  5. Scottish Mum says:

    Yes, the way it is portrayed is a step too far. I can see what they are trying to do, but in the wrong way. They’ve been showing Ronnies gradual decline into insanity and mental breakdown for a long time. They should have asked us how to do it to make it compelling watching, even if uncomfortable.

  6. deluded woman says:

    I stopped watching this programme a long time ago. Appalling storyline, totally pointless and insensitive on so many levels – mental illness, cot death, grief etc. I suppose the scriptwriters are going for the sensational – typical media types who think the great british public actually likes this stuff. And I funds this dross out of my bloody licence fee!!

  7. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    I usually enjoy Eastenders even though it is full of misery, but this storyline has only heightened it’s reputation if being depressing. I think the writers have deeply offended viewers by insulting their intelligence. We all knew what was coming because we have access to story lines via soap and tv magazines, but I honestly didn’t think it would be quite so horrific. The only way they can rectify this incredibly huge controversial issue is to bring the storyline to a close as quickly as possible by not dragging it out and expecting the British public to be like Kat and Alfie who are obviously so dense that they don’t recognize their own child. CJ xx

  8. sheila from Cheeky Chums says:

    with so many viewers actually thinking that soaps are real the script writers should make sure this devastating storyline that effects babies in realife should have an happy ending with the truth coming out.

  9. Jo Beaufoix says:

    OMG I don’t watch Eastenders but when I saw the ads for that episode I felt sick to my stomach. ‘It’s Christmas so let’s traumatize the masses’. Honestly, do they have to be so cheap and vile with such a subject. Grrrrrrr.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Really disappointed that they felt this was the way to deal with this highly emotional issue. It could have been written in such a sensitive way, yet they pick a ‘baby swop’ storyline. It’s insensitive and offensive to families who have been through this tragedy.

  11. Sue Atkins says:

    I have been dismayed by the way the BBC have handled this extremely sensitive and harrowing emotional experience. Of course if it helps families talk openly about these issues or seek help then it has value but it’s choice of timing smacks of ratings. I don’t usually watch Eastenders but my Mother – in – law likes it so we all sat down to watch …… my 16 year old daughter was very distressed by it and feels it isn’t very realistic. Cot death and post natal depression are very important issues for people to discuss but this approach by the BBC is rather offensive and insensitive. Sue Atkins Author of "Raising Happy Children for Dummies"

  12. Lols says:

    The issue of cotdeath is always on a parents mind, especially in the early days (my baby no.2 is 2 months old) & I just feel as though the writers have exploited a really emotional issue in order to get their viewing figures up. It’s made even worse by the baby swapping. Are they hoping we’ll watch & wait for months/years for the truth to come out? I’d rather not see any conclusion to this ‘storyline’. I’ve felt slightly sick watching the bits I’ve seen. And I can’t lie, since it started I’ve been doubly paranoid about my own baby. Goodness knows how first time parents must feel, when you’re ultra paranoid & already entering an ‘unknown’ phase. Irresponsible of Eastenders methinks and has absolutely no entertainment or education factor.

  13. LG says:

    So many people who’ve not even seen the programme seem to be commenting on this storyline … Very Daily Mail of you! Eastenders is a drama series – it is not real-life and therefore is written to get high viewing figures. It should never be seen as a factual and educational programme. Why does it have to be responsible when it is purely fiction. Surely, having a link to the BBC Actionline at the end of each show is responsibility enough? The news reports on much harder storylines and doesn’t carry such helpline contacts. If it’s a subject you can’t watch then simply don’t. I’m a mum of two young children and yet I have continued to watch, have cried at the pain of all the parents involved, but have certainly not been scarred by it. Maybe seeing the difference between real-life and drama has been the key?

  14. Kay Dickinson says:

    I have watched Eastenders from day one and feel they deal with real day to day issues, but what started as a very emotional cot death has ended and continued to insult parents everywhere, that every relative even the father would not recognise there own child.

  15. Liz (LivingwithKids) says:

    @LG – actually my biggest issue is with the presumption that a woman who had discovered her baby had just died would have the prescence of mind to go and swap it for another; I also have an issue with the fact that the scriptwriters think that women (and their families) wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between their own baby and one not even related to them. I still maintain that a programme that is funded by the public has a responsibility not to traumatise or belittle the viewers who watch it. Thanks for commenting.

  16. Javir says:

    I have to agree with LG here. Eastenders is a drama show. It is not real life. Soaps have to deal with controversial issues to get people watching. There has been so much emotional argument from people who haven’t even seen it. Just because I’ve watched it doesn’t make me a bad parent. Yes, the storyline may be farcical but if it offends there’s on off button on every TV set. JP

  17. Liz (LivingwithKids) says:

    Javir – just to stress I have been watching, and many of those who have commented here have also been watching. Soaps deal with controversial issues to get people watching but TV producers do have a responsibility to the viewers. And the point about the BBC is that it is paid for by the public.

  18. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    Hope it’s okay for me to comment again as I just had something to add; I have been a big fan of Eastenders for many years and have watched many controversial storylines. They deal with all sorts of issues, real life and fantasy, but never have I been angered so much and made to feel insulted by a British soap. Yes, it is fictional and drama but its storylines are real life drama’s and unfortunately, this latest one hasn’t been dealt with sensitively enough. I think you only need to see the amount of complaints, thousands of them, to see how much the viewers have been offended. Soap operas are supposed to be entertaining, even if they do deal with real life issues such as death, and I would never dispute that the acting has been excellent – I think Kat, Alfie and Ronnie have done a fantastic job. But Eastenders is a pre-watershed program, on way before 9pm. Other current storylines are very good which is why I find it annoying when people say, "turn it off if you don’t like it". It isn’t as simple as that. If this is the only way to increase ratings, then I think Eastenders have a problem. A huge one. CJ xx

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