Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
30

Soaps News

'EastEnders': Full baby swap timeline

By
Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders

© BBC

Few soap storylines have divided opinion as much as EastEnders' baby swap saga, a plot which provided high drama both on screen and off as the actions of a grief-stricken Ronnie Branning sparked viewer complaints and a public debate. Tonight, millions of viewers will watch the storyline reach its long-awaited climax as Ronnie finally realises the enormity of what she has done and decides to put things right at last.

To mark the plot reaching its peak, Soap Scoop now takes a look back at the storyline with a full, in-depth timeline detailing how a tragic story twist became one of the most talked-about events in Walford history…

LATE 2010

September 23: During an interview on This Morning, Shane Richie offers the first teaser of what is ahead, explaining that he and Jessie Wallace will be at the centre of a massive EastEnders storyline. Shane promises that "it is going to be the biggest soap story in probably the history of soaps", but no further details are revealed.

October 17: The Daily Star Sunday is the first newspaper to reveal details of a baby tragedy ahead on EastEnders. A report in the tabloid discloses that either Kat Moon or Ronnie Mitchell will lose their child just a few days after giving birth.

November 3: In an interview about Ronnie's pregnancy, Samantha Womack confirms that there will be a "baby saga" ahead for the character in the New Year. She adds: "I hope it will be okay. It would be nice to see Ronnie happy... for a bit."

Back at the Vic, Kat feels out of her depth not knowing how to deal with Jean.
November 12: EastEnders bosses officially announce the details of the baby swap storyline, confirming that Ronnie will lose her son to cot death on New Year's Eve before switching him with Kat's child in her grief-stricken state.

November 20: A report in The Sun claims that the cast involved in the baby swap storyline have been offered counselling due to the hard-hitting scenes.

December 22: EastEnders' executive producer Bryan Kirkwood praises the storyline, describing it as a "bold" plot with "absolute believability".

December 23: Scrutiny surrounding the storyline increases as Samantha Womack admits that filming the plot has been "horrific" due to the emotional scenes. At the same time, Shane Richie admits that he has been deeply affected by the story. By the end of the day, EastEnders bosses announce plans to tone down the forthcoming cot death scenes to avoid upsetting viewers.

December 29: The first report of complaints surrounding the upcoming storyline is published as The Sun reveals that Facebook groups have been set up which brand the baby plot "ridiculous" for its portrayal of a bereaved mother as unhinged. However, a show source says: "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."

December 30: 9.65m viewers watch Ronnie and Kat give birth to their baby sons James and Tommy.

JANUARY 2011

January 1: The episode in which Ronnie swaps James with Tommy following her tragic loss is watched by 8.95m viewers.

January 4: The BBC confirms that more than 3,400 complaints have been received about the baby swap storyline. The total includes viewers who complained before the plot had gone to air.

January 5: Internet rumours suggesting that the climax to the baby swap storyline has already been filmed are denied by EastEnders.

When Glenda confronts Ronnie she almost cracks and tells Glenda her secret.
January 6: The attention surrounding the storyline turns into a frenzy as The Sun reports that Samantha Womack has quit EastEnders over the baby swap storyline. Womack's agent later issues a statement confirming her departure but denying any connection to the current plot. Meanwhile, as viewer complaints near the 6,000 mark, the BBC defends the storyline and media regulator Ofcom confirms that it is unlikely to launch an official investigation into the matter. Amid the row, reports in The Mirror and The Guardian claim that the story will be cut short in response to the complaints.

January 7: The BBC confirms that the baby swap storyline will reach its conclusion "earlier than planned". EastEnders' executive producer Bryan Kirkwood, BBC drama boss John Yorke and BBC Vision director Jana Bennett all defend the storyline, with the key message being that there is no intention to portray Ronnie's actions as typical of a bereaved mother. As the day concludes, it is confirmed that the storyline is now the most complained-about plot in the soap's history.

January 8: The latest tabloid rumours suggest that the baby swap storyline will have a "warm ending", focusing on Kat's joy at being reunited with her son. Meanwhile, EastEnders bosses agree to meet with bereaved mothers who have complained about the storyline.

January 9: Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace pledge their commitment to EastEnders in response to reports of unrest among the soap's cast. Show bosses insist that there is "absolutely no truth" in talk of poor morale on set.

January 10: Samantha Womack breaks her silence over the storyline, laughing off reports that she is heading for a breakdown over the plot.

At the church, Kat is overcome with emotion and can't bring herself to head into the church.
January 11: The day of the baby's funeral arrives on screen, but fans notice that some cuts have been made to the episode at the last minute.

January 16: The BBC confirms that changes were made to the funeral episode, telling the Daily Star Sunday that it was "appropriate to respond" to the strong feelings surrounding the storyline.

January 18: Patsy Palmer denies reports that she has quit EastEnders over the baby swap storyline, clarifying that she is focusing on motherhood following the arrival of her fourth child Bertie but will return to filming "when the time is right".

January 26: EastEnders bounces back from the baby swap controversy by winning three prizes at the National Television Awards, including the hotly-contested 'Best Serial Drama' gong. On the red carpet at the event, Jessie Wallace defends the ongoing storyline, while Scott Maslen says that Samantha Womack may return to EastEnders in the future.

FEBRUARY AND MARCH 2011

February 6: A report in the News of the World claims that Samantha Womack will return to EastEnders in 2012 following a 12-month break. The BBC insists that it is too early to discuss any rumoured 'plans' for 2012.

February 13 The baby swap storyline gets its first award nomination, appearing in the 'Best Baby Drama' category in the All About Soap 'Bubble' Awards, which will be determined by a public vote.

March 2: A Digital Spy report exclusively reveals that Charlie Slater will make a brief return to EastEnders for an emotional reunion with daughter Kat. The pair's relationship had become strained in January as Kat blamed him for the loss of her baby.

Kat cradles Tommy and meets Alfie outside.
March 5: Reports reveal that the climax to the baby swap storyline has now been filmed. Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace are spotted filming at a hospital with the baby.

March 6: A report in the Daily Star Sunday exclusively reveals the ending to the baby swap plot, confirming that Ronnie will come to her senses after Max suffers an accident on Tanya's wedding day, which brings Ronnie to the same hospital where she gave birth to James. The report adds that Ronnie will realise the enormity of what she has done and rush to the Queen Vic in a bid to put things right.

March 10: A Daily Star report says that Ronnie will hand herself over to the police after giving the baby back.

March 13: Jessie Wallace discusses the upcoming plot climax by confirming that there will be "happier times for Kat and Alfie".

March 22: Jessie Wallace backs the decision to end the baby swap storyline early, noting that "as an audience you want everything to fall back into place again".

March 23: A report in The Mirror reveals that Ronnie will spend time in prison for stealing the baby, before being released on bail on the day of Tommy's christening.

The Moon Family: Kat, Alfie and Tommy
March 27: EastEnders continues to bounce back from January's row as the storyline wins the 'Best Baby Drama' prize in the All About Soap 'Bubble' Awards. Meanwhile, Jessie Wallace wins the 'Best Actress' gong and Kat and Alfie's return to Albert Square is named 'Best Comeback'.

March 29: Jessie Wallace and Shane Richie confirm that the plot will have a long-lasting impact on Kat and Alfie. Jessie says: "They've grieved for the death of their child. They thought they'd buried him, and now they've suddenly got him back. That's a massive thing to deal with."

APRIL 2011

April 4: Shane Richie reveals that he will soon become a father again but had previously chosen not to reveal the news due to the scrutiny surrounding the baby swap storyline.

April 5: Detailed spoilers released for the baby swap confirm that Ronnie will come to her senses following Max's car crash, verifying the Daily Star Sunday's report from a month earlier. Meanwhile, Samantha Womack explains that the plot's climax sees Ronnie decide "to bring an end to the torment and confusion she's caused".

April 12: Scott Maslen confirms that Jack will be "distraught" once the truth about the baby swap is revealed. Meanwhile, Jessie Wallace explains that the story will still have "a bit of a way to go" even after the reveal scenes have aired.

April 14: Viewers see that Ronnie's world is starting to crumble around her due to the problems stemming from her terrible mistake.

April 15: Fans will see the plot reach its climax as Ronnie decides to do the right thing at last.

Are you looking forward to the climax of EastEnders' baby swap storyline tonight? Let me know your thoughts using the box below! Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

You May Like

Comments

Loading...