Scott Maslen has denied rumours that his co-star Samantha Womack is leaving Eastenders over the recent baby swap storyline.
The actress plays Ronnie Branning on the BBC soap and on New Year’s Eve was seen stealing Kat Moon’s healthy baby and replacing him with her lifeless tot, after he died from cot death. Thousands of viewers complained and many tuned out until the baby was returned on last Friday’s episode.
Samantha announced her departure from Walford as soon as the storyline broke, but Scott – who plays her on-screen husband Jack Branning – insists she is just ‘knackered’ from all the heavy and emotional scenes.
“Sam’s having a break,” Maslen told Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford on This Morning.
“She’s leaving the show for a period of time. She’s not shut the door on EastEnders by any stretch because she loves it there. We all love it there.”
“She’s had a very intense few years. She’s got kids – she just wants to have a bit of a break and go about life. It’s not story-related – I know there was a lot of stuff that came out at the time that she didn’t like the storyline and that was blown out of all proportion. She’s knackered. She’s had a lot of stuff going on over the last couple of years.”
Speaking about the storyline, he added:
“I trust the BBC and the people that come up with stories. EastEnders is always dealing with issues and stories and this is soap, so you’re always on a very fine line. “As actors we don’t crave stuff like this but you enjoy getting into your work so this was a challenge, and a challenge that me and Sam enjoyed.
“It’s not a story that I enjoyed because we’ve all got kids and we all know what the implications of these sort of things are. It’s a tragic story but I felt that in the circumstances we played it really well and that was the very positive thing to come out of it.”
He added: “You have to keep yourself very focused on what you’re doing and not listen to what other people are saying about things, otherwise it influences it.”