This article includes discussions surrounding domestic abuse that some readers may find upsetting.


EastEnders aired a moving reunion for Lola Pearce-Brown (Danielle Harold) and long-lost mum Emma Harding (Patsy Kensit) tonight (7th February), moments after Lola learned a shattering secret about her parents' marriage.

Earlier this week, Lola was stunned to discover who Emma was. In the aftermath, she was supported by husband Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) and paternal grandfather Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) as she came close to collapsing, while Emma watched on in alarm.

At home, a dying Lola was checked over by a doctor, who explained that she was anaemic and needed to rest. But Lola was angry when Jay insisted that he'd make sure she put her feet up, and she refused to take it easy as she vented over the situation with Emma.

Emma arrived soon after to find out if Lola was OK, at which point the latter claimed she was fine before attempting to send her mother on her way. But when Lola lashed out over Emma abandoning her aged three, Emma revealed that she had done no such thing.

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Before going on, though, she asked for a glass of wine - clearly the character needed something to steady her nerves. Jay suggested she head to the local shop, and it wasn't long before Emma returned, ready to explain herself.

Emma revealed that Lola's late father Dan drank heavily, and regularly hit her. He would then apologise before repeating the cycle. She added that on Lola's third birthday, Dan threw a kettle of boiling water at Emma, leaving her burned to the point where she had to stay in hospital for months.

By the time Emma plucked up the courage to return home, Dan and Lola were long gone. Emma had tried desperately to find her little girl, but found no trace of either of them.

Patsy Kensit as Emma Harding in EastEnders.
Patsy Kensit as Emma Harding in EastEnders. BBC

Although this contradicted her belief that Emma had chosen to leave her, defensive Lola didn't believe a word of her mum's story and picked holes in what she said. She was adamant that her dad was a good man - although Billy pointed out that Dan had put her into care.

It was only when Emma bared her scars that Lola was shocked into silence. Having finally been able to talk about her harrowing experience, Emma left. It was then that Billy referenced the fact that though he'd never even known his son Dan existed at the time, Dan was still a Mitchell man who shared their destructive genes.

Billy shamefully explained that several years earlier, he used to hit his late nephew Jamie Mitchell (Jack Ryder). He added that Phil Mitchell's (Steve McFadden) dad Eric was the biggest monster of the clan, before telling Lola that he knew that look of fear in Emma's eyes.

Eventually, Lola came to a realisation and she raced outside to reach Emma, who had just set off in her car. Flagging down the car, Lola told her mum that she didn't blame her and begged her to remain in her life so they could start all over again. Emma cradled her daughter close, promising that she would never let her go again - making the nation weep in the process.

As Lola finally bonds with her mum, fans may be wondering exactly what happened all those years ago, in the days when Billy was an abusive uncle who made Jamie suffer. Read on for a reminder of Jamie's story.

What happened between Billy and Jamie Mitchell?

Before Billy became a devoted family man, he was a bachelor who found himself having to care for teenage nephew Jamie when his father (Billy's brother) Charlie died. Jamie had been getting into trouble and mouthing off, and Billy dealt with the situation by physically abusing Jamie. When Phil visited, he discovered what Billy had been up to and threatened him before taking Jamie under his wing.

Phil came to love Jamie like a son, but Jamie would end up betraying him, and Phil himself attacked Jamie. Meanwhile, Jamie fell in love with Sonia (Natalie Cassidy) and their relationship blossomed. Tragically, though, while on his way to surprise Sonia with flowers, Jamie was accidentally run over with Martin Fowler's (then played by James Alexandrou) car.

Phil and Billy had since made amends with Jamie, and Phil wept as Jamie died in Sonia's arms. As for Billy, he saw Jamie one last time before heading off to wed Little Mo Slater (Kacey Ainsworth) under his nephew's instructions.

Billy may be known for his gentler side these days, but it's important that EastEnders recalls his earlier scenes. Last year, the show delved into the Mitchells' past, revealing our first ever glimpse of the violent Eric (George Russo) in a flashback, whose endless abuse drove a young Phil (portrayed by Daniel Delaney) to lash out - an act that would change the course of his life forever.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can visit Refuge for more information and contact 0808 2000 247 for support. Help can also be found at The Hideout.

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