The residents of Albert Square have said their final goodbyes to Lola Pearce in heart-wrenching scenes.
Hairdresser and mother Lola, granddaughter of Billy Mitchell, lost her battle with brain cancer during Wednesday’s episode, with her family at her side.
Last year, the character, played by Danielle Harold, received the heart-breaking diagnosis and was told she had months to live, before getting married to partner Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick).
Wednesday’s episode saw Jay at her side for her final few hours, as characters including Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) – who is grandfather to her daughter Lexi – and Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) say their final goodbyes.
Struggling to hold back her tears, Kathy said: “That girl is one in a million, just like her mum. You go peacefully darling.”
In the privacy of his home, Phil reflected on the way Lola had stood up to him, describing her as a “proper little blonde firecracker”, which reminded him of his mother Peggy Mitchell, played by the late Dame Barbara Windsor.
Looking up to a picture of Peggy, he said: “Look after her mum, please.”
Another emotional speech came from Billy’s partner Honey Mitchell, who said: “Lola darling, I just wanted to say that I think that you’re absolutely brilliant and it has been the biggest honour being your friend.
“Bye bye for now, darling girl.”
The episode also saw a lock-in at the Queen Vic, with characters including Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) having a girls vs boys darts playoff while reminiscing about Lola, sharing memories and videos.
Back at the house, Lola’s daughter Lexi Pearce (Isabella Brown) played George Ezra’s song Green Green Grass to her unconscious mum before adding: “I love you mum, I’ll never, ever forget you.”
Jay told Lola she would come back as a fox because she is “wily, sassy, scrappy and sexy” while he thought she would say he would come back as a rat.
He said: “I’d come back as a rat as long as I get to rummage through the bins with you. I’ll take whatever I’m given.
“Although you ain’t speaking, I can still hear you. Your gobby voice is going to be in my head forever. I ain’t got to say it, because this ain’t goodbye.”
As the sun rose, Jay left Lexi and Lola cuddling in bed while he went to the bathroom, and returned to find she had died.
Lexi said: “She did it on purpose Jay, she did it for us.”
Harold, 30, had played Lola since 2011 and was at the centre of hard-hitting storylines including a teenage pregnancy.
The actress previously said the episode was the “most difficult thing” she had filmed and added that the vibe on set was “completely different”.
She said: “I think because everyone in some way has been affected by cancer, so it just meant so much to everybody that we got it so correct.
“And yeah, I really struggled. It was really difficult and obviously having to listen to these guys’ goodbyes to me and not cry was really hard.
“I actually had to ask the medical adviser, ‘Can you cry when you’re at that stage?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, you can hear so your emotions are still there’. So that definitely helped me be able to play (the) last scenes, for sure.”
EastEnders continues on BBC One.