It’s not the first time Eastenders have done this…

Not the first time for Eastenders

… and it won’t be the last, either. Following on from the brilliant post by Me, The Man and The Baby , I felt compelled to write about my own turbulent relationship with the soap. As Crystal Jigsaw put it in her comments to the aforementioned post, I too am feeling a little ashamed to call myself an Eastenders fan at the moment. Truth is, I stopped watching it whilst pregnant with my son (I forget why, too much time spent with my head down the toilet, perhaps) and I have only just started watching it again. In fact, New Year’s Eve’s episode was the first full episode I had watched in a long time. Like I said, I’ve had a turbulent relationship with Eastenders.

I remember the first episode, although I can’t have been that old, but I still have memories of Nasty Nick, Dirty Den and Wicksy with their mullets and perms down the caf. Ha!
So, the current storyliine is bringing complaints flooding in and people are fuming at the way the writers have turned an already devastating situation into something horrific and incomprendable. Yes, it does highlight the unpredictability of human nature and yes, we all deal with things differently. I hope that we never have to be in that situation and never have to choose.

But, I have to say that this is not the first time Eastenders has gone to lengths to hammer home a storyline, all in the name of “creating good, dramatic television”. A few years ago, Sharon tearfully revealed a dark secret that made me question my loyalty to the soap. She explained that she was infertile due to a botched termination and went on to beg Vicky not to end her pregnancy. It was all very pro-life and I found it quite upsetting. I am pro-choice and I believe that if Eastenders wants to be a social commentator they should at least offer both sides of the argument. The clear message- to me, at least- was that termination is wrong and so Sharon’s punishment was her inability to have a baby herself. Of course, in the style of bringing people back to life and swapping babies, Sharon then went on to fall pregnant (by her brother) and then lose the father before she could even get the chance to think about playing happy families. The fact of the matter is that I think Eastenders played the whole storyline wrong, much like they are doing now.

That’s why I don’t think this will be the last time that Eastenders brings us a contraversial storyline. They’ve done it before, they will do it again. The question is, why do they feel they need to play on the emotions of parents and why choose to make uncomfortable/ distasteful situations the star of the show? Its every mother’s worse nightmare to face cot-death, particularly having it happen whilst you- god forbid- are sleeping. It is every mother’s worse nightmare to find you are unable to conceive due to a mistake in your younger years. Will it be Eastenders’ worse nightmare if we all stop watching? Probably not. I’m not sure I will be tuning in next week, and yes- I know it is just a story. Its just that I have children and I am emotional about them. I simply don’t have the time to immerse myself in ridiculous storylines that cause hurt and are intended to do nothing more than boost ratings. Donate to SANDS or FSIDS, BBC.
There! Rant over. Feel free to disagree/ agree with me.

10 responses to “It’s not the first time Eastenders have done this…

  • Crystal Jigsaw

    Well, obviously I agree with you. I feel that the storyline is going to come to a conclusion though, because I don’t actually think the program realised how controversial they were making this storyline. I mentioned that Samantha Womack was prepared to act out the scenes and take the salary, yet now she resigns. And yesterday I heard that it isn’t because of the complaints that she has resigned. So why? Money has spoken too loudly in this soap, and although I do enjoy the majority of the storylines, Eastenders should take responsibility for the upset they have undoubtedly caused.

    CJ xx

  • KittyCat

    I follow Sharon Marshall on twitter, you know, the soap girl on This Morning!/Sharontweet

    Anyway, she mentioned a while back that EE were re-filming the clip after it didnt go down so well with the press. I watch the major soaps, EE, Corrie, Emmerdale, and in Scotland, River Ciry. All the soaps have controversial storylines. Lisa being raped in Emmerdale, Sophie coming out as gay in Corrie, and, sometimes I feel as if the soaps try and compete with one another.

    The EE storyline could have been good, about 20yrs ago, they did do a cot death story with Ali who owned the cafe, and it brought attention to SANDS. The problem is, that EE went to far with the baby swap, it was OTT and very unrealistic. Not just the death, Kat would never have gone into hospital without her baby, who was only a matter of hours old, baby would have had to gone with her.

    Apparently, EE were to drag this story out for years, according to Sharon Marshall, however, with pressure from the public, the baby is suppose to go back to Kat on Tuesdays episode, will that turn the public around??

    • ghostwritermummy

      That’s really interesting. I think if the story dies down then so will public outrage but there will be a lot of loyal fans thinking twice about never missing an episode. And you’re right, the soaps do compete but I suppose they have to. “Nothing is new any more, you have to do the same stuff again and just make sure you do it better.” Can’t remember who said that but its true. I do remember the cotdeath storyline from years ago but I was very young then. Thanks for your comments.

  • waterbirthplease

    Don’t watch Eastenders. Never have. But from what i’ve heard i’d pretty much agree with ghostwritermummy. Did anyone see the cotdeath story in Emmerdale a couple of years ago with Lauren and Ashley? Brilliant acting and so emotional to watch, but it was done with sensitivity and a bit of dignity.

  • Kylie Hodges (kykaree)

    It’s such a lost opportunity, that’s what makes me sad, that it’s a chance to address a taboo subject, and that has been lost in the controversy.

    Emmerdale did the same thing with SIDS a few years ago, the vicar’s wife’s baby died and then it turned out that the baby had been swapped at birth and it all got completely stupid, and the original point was lost, it was a completely far fetched, stupid story.

    I remember, many years ago, Sally losing her baby in Home and Away, and recalling how beautifully that was done and acted.

  • Mmelindor

    I agree with you.

    Those saying that it is just a soap are ignoring how influential television is. The viewers may take this as a true representation of how a bereaved mother might react when this is far from the truth. They do not want a random baby, they what their own baby back.

    The BBC should apologize and bring the storyline to a swift conclusion.

  • notanottinghillmum

    Hmmm Well I’ve finally caught up with Eastenders on skyplus and so I can safely catch up with the debate. I have to say I found it very harrowing and distressing to watch and as others have said very unlikely! But I felt much the same when Ronnie finally discovered her first, now grownup, daughter was alive -only to have her killed by a car about three minutes later. I’m not surprised SW wants to leave the series!
    But I don’t agree that people will now think that bereaved parents are likely to try to steal a baby. I think when, very rarely, a baby has been stolen, there has been at least one case where the woman concerned has lost her own child – but that really is not the same as thinking all bereaved parents are childstealers.
    I would also say in EEs defence that there have been plenty of moments when Ronnie has attempted to fess up or take the baby back illustrating her confusion and grief.
    It’s not surprising that anyone who has lost a baby in similar circumstances will feel angry and upset at this story line. People who are grieving or have suffered often feel a sense of ownership over that loss. I will use my own experience as an example. My daughter nearly died because she was born three months early and weighed only 2 pounds. While she was still in hospital the BBC did a drama based on a family with a very early sick baby. My mother warned me and we taped it. There was no way I was ready to watch something like that. Even when I did probably 18 months later I found it very distressing and was uber critical about the realism or lack or it.
    You may remember EE also “did” babies in incubators with Roxy living in the hospital. From memory she was in special care not intensive care, the baby wasn’t as sick as mine,yet she was kept in for months. I felt the programme makers hadn’t done their research properly – I think I really felt no-one should really be allowed to make a programme about the subject unless they had experienced it themselves. I will probably always feel this “ownership” to some extent, but I hope seven years on I can stand back a little.
    And although I accept that this may be a lost opportunity for more understanding about cot death, it’s a soap opera not a documentary.
    But maybe this is a good moment for the BBC to be persuaded to commission a documentary on the subject to give the realistic view that many are asking for?

    • ghostwritermummy

      I totally agree. I don’t think they thought it through and i think some viewers are angry that they assumed it would go unnoticed. So sorry to hear about your little one’s start to life, it must’ve been awful for you. Thanks for commenting

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