Friday, 31 December 2010

Eastenders Has Gone Too Far This Time

I was a huge fan of Eastenders. I watched the very first episode and followed the Beale's, Fowler's, Watts, Carpenters, Osmond's and Cottons every week. I kept this up right up until February last year when it finally tipped me over the edge and now with the storyline that will play out tonight I have to say that I may never watch it again. A once proud soap is now being ruined by sensational story lines and unbelievable plot lines as well as some of the worst writing I have ever seen. Every soap goes through highs and lows but Eastenders at the moment is a disaster and it annoys the hell out of me.

Juts in case you aren't aware the storyline is that Ronnie has had a baby boy, as have Kat and Alfie. Ronnie's baby unfortunately dies of cot death and she then swaps her dead baby for Kat's who then goes through a funeral thinking her child is dead. I'm sorry but what planet are these idiots on that they think they can cheapen something that is so terrible for television ratings?. They quite frankly need to look in the mirror and see if they have any shame left in their souls. I am so angry about this I'm trying desperately not to swear as I can feel the anger burning inside of me as I write this. Too cheapen something so sad beggars belief.

This could have been done with huge compassion and tenderness. It could have been a way of bringing this terrible tragedy right to the front of peoples minds. Instead they have chased ratings once again. In choosing Ronnie as the character who does this as well they have cheapened the whole storyline. Remember I said at the start that I stopped watching it about 18 months ago? That was when hey killed of her daughter. Instead of giving people the ending they wanted they killed her off. Since then she has suffered a miscarriage as well and now this!. Do these scriptwriters get paid in peanuts? Can they not think of anyone better to carry this storyline?. Me? Personally I would have had it being Kat and Alfie, I take nothing away from Samantha Janus as an actress I think she is superb, but Jessie Wallace and Shane Ritchie dealing with this as a couple would have a far greater impact than portraying a grieving woman as a lunatic who will cover the death of her own child so as she gets what she wants.

I am lucky, I have four healthy beautiful children. I used to check them every hour when they were babies because although we did everything they told us to do, you always want to make sure they are okay don't you?. All of the hard work that charities have done over the years to reduce this awful experience for any new parents is going to be wiped away by stupid writers of a once great soap for the sake of television ratings. Until the ex-producer goes and they get new writer's I will not be watching it again. I feel that strongly about this.

You may find this next piece upsetting but I feel its relevant and I have the permission of a friend of mine who was touched by this to use this in this blog as he feels so strongly about it as well. It was he who prompted me to write this piece. We chatted about it in the week and he was distraught at what he saw as sensational television for ratings. I shall finish with his words as requested I shall not name him but thank him for allowing me to do this.

"She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She had lots of dark hair and we were so proud Anthony we really were. She was three months old when it happened. No warning nothing. I thought she had slept through the night. I crept into her room and looked into her cot. She looked like she was asleep. I touched her face and she was cold. I stood there for a few moments, then I picked her up and ran out the house to my neighbours. We didn't have a phone, they did. The ambulance came but it was too late she had passed away. That was 35 years ago and I think of her every day. What Eastenders is doing is so, so wrong they will cause more harm than good. It needs to be stopped but we cant do that can we. Please tell my story in your blog. People need to know what its really like. People who lose children this way don't go and swap babies for other babies. They grieve their loss, if they are lucky they become closer as a couple and one day they have another child. Not what this stupid television programme is doing"

I can picture his face as he tells me this and it hasn't got any easier for him down the years. He has gone on and had two more daughters. Both healthy and happy both now married with children of their own. I met him by chance at a job I worked in many years ago. He was my mentor and one of the nicest, kindest people I have ever worked with. A traditional man who believes in marriage and family, a true gent. I still speak to him now and then but that story I have never forgotten. It stays with me as it does him. That's why Eastenders has gone to far this time.


  1. Good point. I don't watch Eastenders - haven't watched any soap opera since Dallas finished - but I this storyline is ridiculous. When someone has a miscarriage or loses a baby in any way, having "another one" does not make up for the loss. Also, they don't all look the same, and the mother would know if the baby wasn't hers.

    Of course the same thing happened in Solomon's time - I wonder if they are planning to echo the outcome of that?

  2. I must admit Anthony thinking about what you write... As what a writer should do for a reader capture the heart soul and the mind open the doors and the boundaries as they say. To comment on the show itself well I have not really watched the program in a long time... ok the odd episode but not really followed it. If im honest the show has gone down the pan the scriptwriters are *rap the storyline has just ran out of storyline. As for the new kid playing Phils son, I mean come on... His suppose to be 10-11 year old kid a teenager I think his going to start shaving next week.. Perhaps it could be a storyline, well they have no-where else to go now its hit rock bottom.

    As for the cot death within the story, I dont like it... They could have touched on many areas of that, the trauma towards the family psychological problems, being able to come to terms with something like that within a family. The one thing which I did watch within Eastenders was the Phil Mitchell crack addict episode/s they could have gone into various areas of that.. I know personally the support (not) for the addict but the people who surround a person with that problem their is no help!! They could have touched on various emotional attributes with that concern... Well if it were me I know I could have made it a very good storyline with what I would have done with anyone who would supply my family or people I care about with drugs and yeah I have been there on that one!! As for the most recent episodes with concerns to the cot death I cant even reach into my own soul to think about that one... But what they are portraying within the present storyline is not right, or should I say to ill-effect. In a way its taking the (piss) out of everyone who has been affected in losing a child in that way and not really showing the deep concern of what really goes on within a family.

    Good blog Anthony... Have a good one mate.


  3. Anna thanks for the comments much appreciated. It's a very dangerous game that these scriptwriters are playing. Of course any mother would know and how they portay this as entertainment is beyond me. On a lighter note what a soap Dallas was, I do miss that it was my guilty pleasure.

    Mark thanks again for the comments much appreciated as always

  4. M Becca Wonderbum6 January 2011 at 02:24

    Hi Tony.
    I'm still and have been all day wondering this one. You see I don't watch Eastenders anymore, stopped a couple of years back, but unfortunately with everyone telling me to not watch Eastenders, seeing comments of FB and ads for it, the storyline is hard to miss. Therefore in the early hours of this morning I decided to watch it from NYE onwards, where Ronnie comes home with her baby.

    As you know Hugo died and so I am a recently bereaved mother of a newborn and it is so incredibly raw still having only buried him on the 13th. But because it is still raw, I can still remember the emotions (I'm trying to write in order to remember but it is killing me and so I don't but if I don't do it I'll forget, it's hurrendous). So maybe I am qualified to give a view, a bereaved mother's view.

    Forgetting the sensationalism aspect, which whatever anyone says, a soap is a self-serving money spinning business tool. The issue regarding Ronnie interests me. I have never suffered a cot death, but I know many people that have and the anguish and guilt it brings. When a baby dies, whatever age, some mothers don't go to the funeral, they cannot bear to go, some cannot bear to see their dead baby, some try to claw the ground the day after to dig up their baby. All irrational actions, but typical of many a mother grieving. When a baby dies there is no rational or irrational behaviour.

    I endured a hurrendous labour of a baby that suffocated inside me. The cord fell out and hung just above my knees looped. I initially thought he had died there and then, but he still kicked and the paramedics said his cord was still pulsating. Upon arriving at hospital it became clear they had no intention of saving my son's life. Someone had made up their mind to let him die. Cord prolapse is a medical emergency. A mother should be rushed straight into theatre to do an emergency c-section. No rush to check him was made, in fact the paramedics wanted to lift me over onto the bed so as to not disturb the baby, but the midwife simply stated that I could do it myself. It was apparent that they would not fight for him and that realisation was hurrendous. By the time a consultant came, (which was ridiculous because the ambulance took over 30 minutes to arrive and the hospital was on standby for this emergency and I had been in hospital for about 15 minutes already) Hugo had died. They had decided because of his supposed condition, to not fight for his life. This despite the paedatrician saying whether Hugo lived or not was dependant totally on Hugo, his lungs. If they were pliable enough, ie elastic enough, then they could ventilate him and then deal with the kidneys. If his lungs were too tight then they would not be able to do anything. No one would ever know this until he was born. He had to be born to know if his lungs were elastic enough. So I was already pissed with the hospital. I then had to sit for a day, with contractions being induced, and watch as the cord changed colour decomposing, wondering just what the hell the baby would look like, seeing the blood vessels break. It was truely agonising and truely a guilty experience knowing I had felt his last kick at the hospital and knowing he died inside me due to oxygen deprivation.

  5. M Becca Wonderbum6 January 2011 at 02:27

    A few days later I went storming into the hospital morgue and demanded they hand over my baby because I was pissed off with the hospital. I then drove him to the funeral directors. It was the most liberating thing I had done, and I have done alot, including parachuting and that is liberating. For me I took control back of my child and stuck two fingers up at society and what was EXPECTED of me. I know that loads of people have commented and thought that I had lost the plot, but those commenting had not endured my hell. I had become frantic with worry that they would accidently mix him up and add him to the cremation list, plus it stunk there and he smelt of dead old people and they were taking their time sorting out red tape. Bollocks, I was suffocating and I had to stop that feeling so I did, rational or not.

    Around a week later I then had him home with me for 10 days. I took him to Costco at Lakeside, my allotment, to a shop in Rochford to do hand and footprints on plates, to Romford to a children's christmas party. He was full on a part of my life for 10 whole days. I even had him in bed with me at night, like I do all my babies. I KNOW so many people have commented and had a problem with it, thought I was having a breakdown. I know because comments were made to my eldest daughter about me going nutty. Those are the ones that were not a part of his life. Those that came into his life and held him then understood why I would have him home etc. The mothers I know, who too have suffered, none of them said anything negative, in fact they felt regret that they had not done the same thing. I made him a part of my life, if it was only a slight pretence. I created memories and to be quite frank, I just didn't want to let him go. Why stay in a funeral home, when he could be home, in the family home and be with his family. I would hold him in my arms at night and kiss his face and rub my cheeks and chin around his face and head and close my eyes and pretend just for a while, all was well. I would enjoy him until I HAD to give him up. I fell so deeply and utterly in love with him.

    However, prior to all this, whilst still pregnant but knowing he could die I was told of a woman who's baby died and was cremated and she kept his ashes in an urn. She would carry the urn around the house whilst she did housework and talk to her baby. Put the urn in the cot where the baby would have slept in etc. Yes it sounds really weird. That's exactly what I thought and my husband thought when I related the story to him. Then it happened to us, a baby of ours died and suddenly it wasn't strange, it was normal what these people did. We too became those nutters, living in a freezing, icy cold bedroom at night just to accommodate our son, talk with him and joke with him about it. It wasn't real, but it was real for us.

    My point is we don't know what we will do until it happens to us. There is no normal, no rational anymore. I have learnt this too many times. I am a thinker and think about situations, what would I do if I was in those situations. Unfortunately quite a few times in my life I have found myself in those situations and acted completely differently and shocked myself at my reactions.

  6. M Becca Wonderbum6 January 2011 at 02:30

    With the Eastender's storyline, the charactor Ronnie discovers that her son has died, the sign being he was cold, goes running around for help and does not find any. She must be horrified, panicked, in shock, sick to her stomach, and feeling guilty, (that one comes however good a parent you are,) you feel guilty. These are the most intense feelings and they are physically painful and real. The pain is absolutely real. No help came, but she heard a baby. I don't know her reason for going to the baby, but sometimes guilt can be so overwhelming that maybe for some, changing their dead baby over for another may just alleviate that painful sick in the stomach feeling and stop the suffocation that is overwhelming you. You see if you don't think about it you can't hurt.

    Maybe she took the baby home to just pretend just for a little longer, that all was well. Just close her eyes and pretend it was not real what had just happened. That it all just spiralled out of control. She had only just given birth, hormones are crazy. I drove a couple of days after Hugo was born and nearly killed Andy and I three times. It was like water off a duck's back for me, didn't phase me that we had near misses, no adrenaline rush, nothing, no emotion at all, as calm as anything. Hormones and death are not a good mix. Plus situations presenting themselves, how does anyone know what they would do given the circumstances. I'll put up my hand now and say I don't know anymore.

    A mother does not want another baby. They want their baby, their baby looks like members of their family. But a mother's arms ache, physically ache to hold a baby, your breasts still produce milk and the letdown reflex still happens. You desperately want a baby to fulfill those needs. I only wanted Hugo. Hugo looked like my babies, he fitted in perfectly. However the week before the funeral we took a cast of his face, made a copy out of plaster of paris. Before we did it, whilst debating whether or not to do one, Andy and I initially thought no, felt it was odd, maybe sick. But in the end we did it and knew that we didn't need to keep it if we still felt uncomfortable. The night of the funeral I went to bed heartbroken. I had a big basket of mememtos. I had done everything and anything getting things done so as to never forget him. In this basket I couldn't find anything to comfort me, nothing interested me in there, apart from one thing, the face. It wasn't him, but it was a cold, hard, velvety reminder of him, that if I closed my eyes and held it up to my face, Hugo would be back for me. That was how I had held him at night. I would close my eyes and just feel his face against mine. So I get Ronnie's need to just have a baby there just a little longer and just pretend just for the moment all is well.

    When a baby dies, a mother is wracked with a MASSIVE surge of guilt, pain, panic, fear, horror, and shock, which leaves you reeling in this terrible numbness. There are two options open to parents. Not think and forget. Or remember. With remembering comes the pain, that is the price to pay in order to remember. To not think, to not remember crushes those feelings down. Oh those feelings they don't ever go away, they grumble there, even when you're busy pre-occupied with something, there is this feeling that something is wrong, then you stop and your head is again dealing with the anguish. I was told time does not heal, time just allows you to learn how to manage the pain.

  7. M Becca Wonderbum6 January 2011 at 02:33

    For me Hugo was born dead. I didn't hear him cry, I only remember him cold, not warm and silent. Maybe if I'd heard him breathe, cry, gurgle, maybe I would have wanted to hear those sounds just for a moment with my eyes closed, before the full horror of what had taken place become completely real. Just like the plaster of paris face. I don't know. My sister held Hugo, who also had had a stillborn at 42 weeks and I'm sure, because of the decomposition, she would have felt close to her baby by doing so. Babies and I guess adults too, become firm like plastercine. When they have been dead for a couple of weeks and you hold them, even with two blankets, you can feel their bones where everything shrinks and moisture leaves the body. Plus they are cold. So I am sure she would have held him and closed her eyes just for a moment to remember her baby and just to be back with her in her mind just for THAT moment. Why? Because although no other dead baby will be Hugo, I know that if it happened to someone I knew and I could hold their baby, the first thing I would do is close my eyes and touch. See if there is anything similar to Hugo, just so I could go back in time to him, if only in my head. And yes that is all it would be is a pretence, but a pretence that would again remind me of him and the love he brought into my life and that wonderful time of holding him. I would kiss that baby knowing that they would feel like a peach taken out of the fridge, because that is how dead babies feel when you kiss them, Hugo and my sisters. But there is a chance that by holding another dead baby I wouldn't feel anything. It would not remind me of Hugo. It seems that Ronnie may have taken a chance and found that actually you cannot replace a baby as from what I have seen she is not coping and doesn't seem able to feed the baby. I don't know. But people adapt. I never thought I would put him in the ground...... but unfortunately I did and although that is what is expected I feel guilty that I buried him. Women that take babies may not initially cope, but humans adapt, they learn to deal with death and they learn to love others.

    And women do take babies in situations like this. It's not common as babies die as a stillborn something like 17+ a day, (maybe more I can't remember) in this country, that does not include, neonatal deaths or cot deaths so the figure is big. A baby dying is far more common than a woman taking one, but it does still happen. With regard to Eastenders tackling the issue. Well the proof of the pudding is in the eating, ie does this need to be addressed, is there a need. No the figures as I have just stated show this. It is such a rare situation that I don't think people need to be educated on it. But security at hospitals is high on maternity wards, there are reasons for this. Do I understand Ronnie taking the baby? Yes. This may have been cot death, but the baby was only a day old and she was still getting to know him, her hormones would have been crazy, her breasts would soon start to fill with milk and the guilt would have been excruciating. If taking another baby for just a little while to just ease the pain a little would help her, I can see how it could happen given the right circumstances. However, I know for me and many others we long for the children we lost and not anothers. A glimpse into the past only lasts for a second and then reality kicks us back up the arse painfully. However it seems for some this does not happen and thankfully this is rare indeed. What always must be remembered is that everyone is different and everyone grieves differently.

  8. M Becca Wonderbum6 January 2011 at 02:35

    With Solomon, the mother in my opinion changed babies because in my opinion she couldn't cope with the baby dying, probably from SIDS, would have felt this hurrendous guilt that maybe she did it. To maybe change this and push this feeling away would be to take another baby, busy yourself with them and hope the problem would go and therefore the pain. Upon discovery and Solomon suggesting cutting the baby in half, my thoughts on it are, that the fake mother would have realised that her options were a)give up the baby and deal with her loss, hurrendous but has to be dealt with; or b)let the baby die and not be alone in grief. She wouldn't have to see the joy of the other mother, the milestones her baby would not accomplish, plus trials are sometimes easier to bear when you are not alone in a trial. Irrational, yes, but grief is not rational.

    Should Eastenders sensationalise, NO. Do women steal babies, yes..... Is some of the storyline in Eastenders regarding this crap, YES. Thank you Tony, sorry I've written so much, but it's not a straight forward subject, emotion never was, never is and never will be.

  9. M Becca Wonderbum6 January 2011 at 02:44

    Another thing I have just remembered, is that you forget. You do things that you can't remember saying or doing. You can't remember how you got somewhere or why you were doing something it is really bizarre. The mind plays tricks on you whilst it tries to digest what is happening. Death of a baby, from my experience, is a mental and physical effect. So someone taking a baby on the spur of the moment, given the right opportunities, I can believe that.......