EastEnders storyline sets new complaints record

EastEnders' controversial baby death plot has become the most complained about storyline in the show's quarter-century history.

The grim tale – which also involved child-snatching – has prompted 8,400 complaints to the BBC and 374 more to broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

Programme bosses have decided to bring the story to an end early in response to the audience's reaction. Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood yesterday revealed the plot will have a happy conclusion, with child and mother reunited.

Viewers saw Ronnie Branning lose her baby son to cot death on New Year's Eve before swapping him with Kat Moon's live newborn.

The huge volume of complaints has surpassed that for the sudden death of Ronnie's daughter Danielle in a car crash in April 2009, which prompted concerns from more than 7,000 viewers.

Mr Kirkwood defended the plot again, saying it fitted the tradition of "dealing with social issues in a powerful and dramatic way".

Actress Samantha Womack is to leave anyway this year. Her agent insisted that the decision was nothing to do with the storyline.