Eastender’s controversial cot death plot has become the most complained about story in the show’s history with the BBC receiving more than 8,400 complaints in the week after it first aired. 11.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the New Year’s Eve episode where Ronnie Branning loses her baby and swaps him for Kat Moon’s newborn son. The controversial episode brought in an additional 1.7 million viewers to the 9.5 million average.
BrandIndex Buzz scores reflect the mood of the nation, as we see an increase in Buzz for BBC1 in the days immediately leading up to the much-maligned episode. Scores were at 17.9pts on December 29, and rose by 11.3 to 29.2pts by New Year’s Eve. As the complaints began to roll in, Buzz scores plummeted to reach a low of 7pts by January 10.
Reputation for the BBC1 brand has also been affected by the traumatic plotline as Reputation scores fell from 54pts on New Year’s Eve to 46.3pts on January 11.
However, it’s not all bad news for BBC1 as during the controversy Quality scores rose from 46.8pts on New Year’s Eve to 54pts on January 11, showing that despite the difficult storyline, the public still rate BBC1 highly in this measure.
News of the decision to reunite baby Tommy with his parents earlier than planned, and bring the storyline to a close in the spring seems to have worked in appeasing viewers as BBC1 Buzz scores were on the rise after January 10 and stood at 11.1pts on January 11. Let’s hope the happy ending for Kat and Alfie is also a happy ending for BBC1 scores.
Collected separately, comments on the TellYouGov site show how the public reacted to the storyline, with one user remarking “Big mistake with the latest Eastender's storyline:( ” and another on a slightly more positive note saying “I love the BBC. Minus Eastenders generally very good quality programming.”