EastEnders viewers were brought to tears as much-loved character Lola Pearce tragically passed away.
Viewers lauded the BBC soap for showcasing the ‘brutal’ and ‘heartbreaking’ reality of a terminal cancer diagnosis.
And in what has been described as the ‘saddest ever’ exit, Lola (Danielle Harold) lost her battle to brain cancer in Wednesday’s show.
Lola’s loved ones rallied around her during a stormy night in Albert Square, after her nurse warned them she may just have hours to live.
And fans watched Lola’s emotional husband Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) say his final goodbye.
Devastating: EastEnders viewers were brought to tears as much-loved character Lola Pearce tragically passed away
Emotional: Fans watched Lola’s emotional husband Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) say his final goodbye
Jay struggled to say goodbye and quickly became emotional: ‘I can’t say it, I can’t. You ain’t leaving me, you are in my biones, my veins, it is not our time.
‘If there’s a god, we’ll have another shot at this. Maybe we’ll come back as something else, me you and Lex. A family of ants. You might come back as a fox. As long as I get to come back with you. This ain’t goodbye, I don’t have to say it.’
Jay stepped out the room for a moment and as he reentered the room, he noticed the bad weather had lifted and that ‘the sun had come out’ for his wife.
As he turned to face Lola he realised that while he was out of the room she had sadly passed away.
Jay broke down into tears, while Lexi woke up and reassuring her step-dad, she said: ‘She did it for us’
After paying tribute to Lola at the Queen Vic, residents woke up to the sunshine and the birds singing unaware of the tragic news about to hit them.
In the closing moments a fox ran across the square, symbolising Lola after Jay previously told his wife she could come back as a fox.
BBC viewers then saw Lexi and Jay cradling Lola’s body and sobbing, as they struggled with their grief while EastEnders’ famous Julia’s Theme played.
One penned on Twitter: ‘That was the saddest episode of EastEnders’
Another wrote: ‘What a beautifully haunting goodbye episode. If EastEnders doesn’t weep all the awards then something is very wrong’
A third added: ‘What a beautiful and emotional ending to a heartbreaking storyline. the cast have been outstanding to watch’
One fan said: ‘Amazing episode. Lola was always one of my faves. Danielle has been amazing’
Tough watch: BBC viewers then saw Lexi and Jay cradling Lola’s body and sobbing, as they struggled with their grief while EastEnders’ famous Julia’s Theme played
One emotional fan penned on Twitter: ‘That was the saddest episode of EastEnders’
EastEnders fans were left in ‘puddles of tears’ as Denise Fox made a poignant promise to dying Lola.
BBC viewers were left heartbroken as Denise (Diane Parish), who employed Lola at her salon, promised to be an ‘extra auntie’ to her only daughter Lexi.
She said: ‘ You’ve been a good worker for me over the years, Lo. You got real flair.
‘But more than that, enough though I’m over the hill, you’ve been a mate. So wise beyond your years, your tea left a little bit to be desired, though, babe.
‘I’m going to look out for Lex. I know she’s got people, but one extra auntie ain’t going to hurt, is it?’
The scene came to a close with Denise giving Lola a kiss and whispering: ‘You take care, sweetheart’, leaving viewers in floods of tears.
Taking to Twitter, one said: ‘Denise’s goodbye to Lola was beautiful, saying she’ll always look out for Lexi.’
Another wrote: ‘Denise broke my heart,’ while a third added: ‘That Lola and Denise scene broke my heart’.
A fourth penned: ‘My heart is breaking at these scenes.’
‘Denise saying she’s going to be an extra Auntie to Lexi. I’m a puddle of tears,’ said another.
Praised: Viewers lauded the soap for showcasing the ‘brutal’ and ‘heartbreaking’ reality of a terminal cancer diagnosis
EastEnders’ executive producer Chris Clenshaw also recently revealed what made them choose Lola for the soap’s tragic terminal cancer storyline.
According to Chris, to achieve show bosses’ goal of raising awareness for the disease, 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.
He 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.’
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.’
Devastating: In her penultimate episode, EastEnders fans were left in ‘puddles of tears’ as Denise Fox made a poignant promise to dying Lola
Chris also said he was full of praise for Danielle who has portrayed Lola’s devastating journey.
He added: ‘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.’
EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.