The body received 1,044 complaints over the two New Year episodes which saw Ronnie Branning, played by Samantha Womack, swap her dead baby for the newborn son of Kat Moon, but the Beeb also admitted to receiving 13,400 complaints over the course of the storyline – which eventually ended in Ronnie’s incarceration last month.
Ofcom ruled that the scenes were not “unduly disturbing or graphic” and explained that “the storyline would not have exceeded their expectations given that the soap is known for presenting a range of challenging and, at times, controversial issues.”
This news will come as a blow to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Sids) awareness campaigners, who were vocal in their criticism of the plot. But while Ofcom acknowledged that taken in isolation, the New Year’s Eve episode was “clearly capable of causing offence”, it ruled that the BBC One soap was not in breach of rules when considering the full context of the four-month storyline.
A spokesperson then went on to explain that the fact that the BBC had at no point implied that Ronnie’s reaction was typical of a woman suffering from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). “Whilst the loss of baby James was a catalyst, Ronnie’s reaction was born out of extreme personal trauma in her life and not as the direct and sole consequence of losing her baby.” Ofcom said.