Star of EastEnders Danielle Harold has spoken out about the terrible conclusion to her character’s storyline, calling it the “best exit” for Lola Pearce-Brown.
Recent filming of the actress’s last moments as Lola resulted in the poignant episode that will show on Wednesday (May 31).
A year ago, media leaks revealed the first details of Lola’s departure from the programme. After receiving a tragic diagnosis of a brain tumour, Lola later discovered that her condition was fatal.
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This week, Danielle complimented executive producer Chris Clenshaw for giving Lola a dignified send-off during an EastEnders press conference.
I just can’t thank Chris enough, Danielle said. I can’t express enough gratitude to him for how it was handled since it was the perfect departure.
“Chris really did let me play out all of Lola’s life as well, in a very short period of time. It wasn’t just the leaving.
“Obviously, I’ve been on the show for a long time, but throughout the years, we’ve never really delved into Lola. It has been very remarkable to learn about her entire life in the course of this plot.
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“There have been so many things about Lola that I’ve always wondered about as well, so to learn everything and come up with all the solutions, it’s just been such a great experience.
“When we were talking, I thought Lola had so much to offer, but Chris stated he wanted to share that with her before she passed away. Because I actually thought, “What about this?” he’s done that justice. He has been so fantastic at making Lola’s life make sense, even in the simplest ways.
Lola was chosen for the plot because Clenshaw earlier remarked that it was crucial to tell the brain tumour scenario with a beloved character.
“When Chris told me that, I said: ‘I don’t think she is,” Danielle said. It has been really overwhelming for me. I never identified with the person Chris was portraying. Chris recognised it in me, and it was great. It was a Catch 22.
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Danielle also discussed how she felt when filming the moments of Lola’s demise.
Nurse Suzanne, a member of Lola’s care team, will caution that she is getting close to the end in the episodes airing next week. Suzanne advises Lola’s loved ones to begin saying their final goodbyes.
Danielle reflected on the episodes and said, “It was absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was incredibly challenging to slow down the body in any way—doing the breathing, everything—to get into that mentality.
“There was such a polite atmosphere on site. I can’t even begin to describe how respectful it felt; it was just a whole unique mood that I had never experienced before. The fact that we got it right meant so lot to everyone on set, I believe, since everyone had been impacted by cancer.
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“I really battled and it was incredibly hard, and I had to keep from crying as I heard the characters say their farewell! I had to ask the medical adviser if you can weep at that point, and they responded that you can hear, which made it much easier to act out those final scenes.
It’s getting harder for me to shut off, she continued. Since I’ve met so many individuals with brain tumours, those who have lost loved ones to them, and others who have lost children, it has become such a significant part of my life that I haven’t really wanted to shut off.
“I can’t express my gratitude to them enough for sharing their tales with me; it simply inspires you to speak your own with even greater authenticity. You are forced to accept it as a part of your existence.
BBC One broadcasts EastEnders from Monday through Thursday at 7.30 p.m. The programme is also available on BBC iPlayer.