Sam Womack 'quits EastEnders over cot death story'

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Samantha Womack has quit EastEnders, apparently over the soap's tragic cot death storyline.

According to reports, the 38-year-old actress decided to leave after viewing the traumatic plot as a "mother first and actress second" and sent a handwritten letter of resignation to producers when she first read the script in November.

BBC bosses have now received over 5000 complaints from viewers over the scenes which saw Samantha's character Ronnie lose her baby James, and then take Kat Moon's son Tommy replacing him with her dead child.

A source told The Sun: "The last couple of months at work have been awful for Sam. The first time she read the script, she thought it was wrong and pushed boundaries too far. It was such a sensitive issue, she knew it would cause a huge backlash.

"She wrote a letter on the day she read it and made it clear to bosses she thought it was wrong. They persuaded her to stay and film the scenes, but she will leave in May.

"It was draining for her filming the scenes and incredibly difficult emotionally."

However, a spokesman for Samantha has refused to comment.

A BBC spokesman said the storyline "allows an exit for Ronnie Branning".

Earlier this week, EastEnders executive producer Bryan Kirkwood said: "We appreciate this is a challenging storyline and have taken care to ensure viewers were aware of the content in advance of transmission".

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