EastEnders is welcoming back Lola Pearce, four years after the character was written out of the BBC1 soap.
Her surprise return alongside the new-look Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden replacing Harry Reid to become the sixth actor to play him) and their daughter Lexi, now six, shocks Mitchell patriarch Phil (Steve McFadden) and the pair are clearly hiding the truth about why they've really come home – especially as Ben has shown little interest in Lexi's life up to now.
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While EastEnders keeps fans guessing as to the real reason Ben and Lola are back, here's a reminder of how the bolshy blonde fits into the Mitchell family tree, what she got up to first time around, and a bit more on Danielle Harold who is reprising her role.
When is Lola Pearce back on EastEnders? Is she played by the same actress?
Lola returns to Walford with Ben and Lexi on Monday 1st April. Danielle Pearce – who portrayed her between 2011-2015 – is reprising her role.
When did Lola Pearce first appear in EastEnders?
In 2011 Billy Mitchell discovered he had a son with childhood friend Julie Perkins he never knew about and he tried to find their now grown-up offspring only to discover he had died some years before – survived by a teenage daughter Lola. Tracking her down to a rough children's care home, where she was beating up another resident, Billy took his orphaned granddaughter in and gobby Lola quickly bonded with her beloved 'Pops' as she settled into life with her estranged family in Albert Square, causing chaos with her tearaway antics.
What were Lola's biggest EastEnders storylines?
Cheekily asking her distant cousin (apparently they're third cousins, once removed) Ben Mitchell if he wanted to have sex with her to test his suspicion he was gay, the relatives romped but their saucy experiment resulted in baby Lexi, born nine months later during a live segment of EastEnders in which Billy carried the real-life Olympic torch around Albert Square to mark the imminent London 2012 games.
Ben decided he definitely preferred boys and wasn't bothered about being a dad, and when he went to prison for killing Heather Trott, overprotective grandfather Phil made it his mission to get custody of Lexi, accusing Lo of being an unfit mum.
The tug of love over the tot ensued over the next year with social services giving the baby to Phil, only for Lola to kidnap her own daughter. Eventually Phil and Lola made amends and she got Lexi back. Lola was also best mates with Abi Branning and had romances with Abi's cousin Dexter Hartman, beefcake Peter Beale and honorary Mitchell Jay Brown.
When did Lola Pearce leave EastEnders?
In July 2015 Lola and Lexi planned to leave with then-boyfriend Jay to join pal Dexter who had moved to Newcastle, primarily for Jay to avoid suspicion in the ongoing Lucy Beale murder investigation. When Billy shopped Jay to the police for hiding Lucy's purse obtained by Ben mugging her the night she died, Lola left without her lover believing she could have a better life away from Walford. She unceremoniously dumped Jay off screen having hooked up with Dexter in Newcastle.
What else has actress Danielle Harold appeared in? What's she been doing since EastEnders?
EastEnders launched her acting career but Harold first came to the public's attention a few months before her debut as Lola in documentary series Jamie's Dream School, in which altruistic celebrity chef Jamie Oliver gave troubled teenagers a second chance at academic success in a warehouse converted into a school where lessons were taught by famous faces who are experts in their fields.
Since EastEnders, Harold has worked steadily with roles in a number of British feature films including horrors Fanged Up and Monster, thriller Two Graves and action comedy Dead Ringer, as well as an episode of Casualty.
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