Scandals in Soapland

Tim Glanfield takes a look at some controversial soap storylines new and old


There’s no doubt soap opera and scandal go together like a tabloid newspaper and, well, scandal – but few storylines have rivalled the complaint pulling power of the EastEnders baby-swap plot, which to date has provoked a whopping 6,000 members of the public to express their distaste.


I happened to be at the pre-Christmas press screening of the episode that saw Ronnie Branning (Samantha Womack) swap her dead baby with Kat Moon’s (Jessie Wallace) healthy child, and I must admit, I thought at the time there might be problems.

Bryan Kirkwood, executive producer of the programme, described it at the time as “one of the most powerful moments in EastEnders history” and show insiders predicted the plot might run for years…

Four months later – and after rumours of extensive rewrites at Elstree – baby Tommy will be returned to his birth mother later this month. But complaints aside, was this really the most outrageous moment in soap history?

In this week’s issue of Radio Times, Gareth McLean guides readers through a selection of soap stories that have courted controversy over the years. Remember Mark Fowler’s battle with HIV, Sarah-Lou’s teenage pregnancy, and that plane crash that destroyed the “farm” in Emmerdale?

Personally, I’d like to throw into the mix the incestuous relationship in Phil Redmond’s now sadly defunct ground-breaking scouse soap Brookside.


But what do you consider the most controversial moment on soap street – is there a storyline that’s shocked you to your very core?