An EastEnders boss has revealed what made them choose Lola Pearce for the BBC soap’s tragic terminal cancer storyline.
The character, played by Danielle Harold, has a terminal brain tumour and was recently given only months to live, with her final scenes expected to air this week.
And while this has left many viewers devastated, the soap’s Executive Producer, Chris Clenshaw, has admitted that’s exactly why it ‘needed’ to be done.
According to Chris, as show bosses aimed to raise awareness for the condition, the character had to be ‘loved’.
Speaking at a press screening for Lola’s final episode, he discussed the immense thought that went into their decision, and revealed: ‘The ending of one of our biggest storylines of the past year, and almost everyone on the show is extremely proud of the story, it’s also an extremely sad time for us as we say farewell to the incredible Danielle Harold.’
Sad: An EastEnders boss has revealed what made them choose Lola Pearce for the BBC soap’s tragic terminal cancer storyline
He continued: ‘When we first came up with the idea of telling the story, we debated at great length, and it certainly wasn’t a decision that we took lightly.
‘The story was so powerful and we know from previous stories such as these that when EastEnders tackles or raises awareness of an issue, the impact can be huge and we all felt that this was one of those stories that needed to be told.
‘With the support of Brain Tumour Research and Macmillan Cancer Support, whose help and support has been invaluable, we as well as all the families and most importantly those actually going through what Lola is, our understanding of the issue grew and we knew just how important it was that we tell this story.
‘And let me tell you, right from the start Danielle has thrown her heart and soul, not only into the performance but also the detailed research.’
Chris added that he was full of praise for Danielle who has portrayed Lola’s devastating journey.
‘I think it’s incredibly difficult. None of us want to say goodbye to the character, and none of us want to say goodbye to Danielle, but I think that’s the character Danielle has created.
‘She is so well loved, and you can only really tell a story like this with a character that is so well loved.
‘We all know how talented Danielle is. But from the outset of this storyline, she has blown everyone away,’ he said.
Tragic: The character, played by Danielle Harold , has a terminal brain tumour and was recently given only months to live, with her final scenes expected to air this week
Difficult: And while this has left many viewers devastated, the soap’s Executive Producer, Chris Clenshaw, has admitted that’s exactly why it ‘needed’ to be done
‘She has not only portrayed the brutality of what many who face a terminal diagnosis go through with such care and consideration, but she has been meticulous in detail with how she has done it.’
‘Over the next week on screen, Danielle will quite rightly be at the centre of the show and as viewers are aware, Lola is sadly coming to the end of her life’, he admitted.
‘Although a tough watch, there were lots of moments where we see Lola’s determination and tenacious character shine through – something that Danielle and ourselves were all keen to ensure we continued.
‘With those around her, including Jay and Billy, played by Jamie Borthwick and Perry Fenwick – who have all been outstanding with this story – we see a family preparing to say goodbye.
‘It is incredibly moving and with the powerful performances from all those involved and we hope that we have raised awareness of an issue that sadly affects so many.’
Next week, Lola begins to suffer seizures, and the nurse breaks the news to Jay that his wife doesn’t have long left, and is near the end.
Lola’s final scenes will be broadcast on Wednesday 31st May 2023.
In last week’s episodes, viewers were left ‘sobbing’ as Lola began issuing her final goodbyes to her daughter Lexie during Wednesday’s episode.
As her condition worsens, Lola has started saying goodbye to her most loved ones, beginning with her daughter Lexie.
After undergoing a baptism to ‘end up’ in heaven with her daughter, the pair shared a hear-to-heart.
Lexi told her mother: ‘I’m glad we’re going to be in heaven together.
Lola replied: ‘Me too. But, I can wait for a very very long time, ok? I want you to have a long and happy life first. I’ll always be looking over you, you know?’
Heartbreaking: In last week’s episodes, viewers were left ‘sobbing’ as Lola began issuing her final goodbyes to her daughter Lexie during Wednesday’s episode
Sad: As her condition worsens, Lola has started saying goodbye to her most loved ones, beginning with her daughter Lexie
As Lola began crying, she continued: Lex, as Mommy gets a little bit weaker, I need you to be a bit stronger for me ok?
‘You know if you ever want to talk to me, you know like that Reverend did with God, just talk to me. I’ll be listening always.
‘When you’re hurting, you’re going to feel my arms wrapped tight around you.
‘When you’re happy, you’re going to hear me laughing with you.
‘I will always, always be looking over you, ok?’
Lexie replied: ‘When I have a daughter, I’m going to tell her all about you.’
Their emotional conversation was then cut short by Lexie’s father Ben Mitchell, who came to apologise for his behaviour.
Earlier in the episode, an agitated Ben lashed out at Lola for ‘not fighting enough’, telling her ‘you should be in hospital’.
He also revealed to Lola that he had told their daughter she would be around for when Lexie starts school in September.
Despite a clashing of heads between Ben and Lola’s current partner Jay, who told him to ‘back off’, it seems his words did not get through.
As the final credit’s rolled on the episode, a plotting Ben could be seen on the phone to a doctor, telling the professional his plans to keep Lola alive for another few months.
Taking to Twitter as the episode aired, fans were left heartbroken at the devastating scenes.
‘I’m sobbing’, one wrote, while ‘god this is heartbreaking’, a second added.