EastEnders' executive producer Chris Clenshaw has revealed why Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) was chosen to be killed off, just weeks after the beloved mainstay was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.
Lola's story is already breaking fans' hearts, as she was given the tragic news that the operation to treat her cancer was unsuccessful. As Lola is supported by boyfriend Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick), the stars have been praised for their powerful performances.
But, with many wondering why the BBC soap gave this devastating story to Lola, Clenshaw spoke to Inside Soap, where he explained the motivation behind the twist.
"It’s such an important issue to tell, and Danielle is doing a phenomenal job," he said.
"When you play big stories it has to be with characters you love. Lola is a much-loved character – she has grown up in Walford and is very close to the audience’s heart, which is why her story matters so much. We wouldn’t do this story with [just] anyone, but it is an important story that needs to be told."
Indeed, Lola is so popular that her fate has had the nation weeping. And, asked whether it was difficult to consider losing her, Clenshaw replied: "Of course, that is the nature of soap. It’s always tough and we don’t like to say goodbye."
Ahead of her illness, EastEnders delivered a touching reunion for on/off couple Lola and Jay. And the producer explained that he would always have found a way to bring them back together.
"I wanted Lola and Jay back together, especially for this story. Although I probably would have found a way to reunite them, as I think they’re meant to be together.
"Certainly for this story, as it’s an emotional one. And there’s a love story at the heart of it."
Speaking previously about her storyline, actress Harold said: "It means so much to be trusted with a storyline like this – one that’s close to many people’s hearts.
"Sadly many of our viewers will be able to relate to Lola’s story and it’s been heartbreaking to speak to the families affected by brain tumours and hear their stories.
"They’ve been so amazing in sharing their experiences with me, and I’m so lucky to have them. I wouldn’t be able to do this storyline without their support."
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