Fury over EastEnders’ decision to kill off character Danielle Jones has mounted with more than 41,000 soap fans voicing their anger.
Viewers are enraged at the controversial storyline which got rid of adopted Danielle, played by 22-year-old Lauren Crace, just as she was reunited with her birth mother Ronnie (Samantha Janus).
Last night, Facebook group “Bring Back Danielle from EastEnders” had attracted 36,000 fans.
It was only set up after Thursday’s hour-long episode, watched by over 11 million viewers, in which Danielle was run over by Janine Butcher.
In addition, a similar separate petition, set up by EastEnders fan Vicky Cole, now has 7,000 signatures.
Vicky said: “People have waited for a year for Danielle and Ronnie to be reunited. We wanted to see how easy it would be for them to have a relationship, but as soon as they got together Danielle was killed.”
Yesterday, EastEnders’ executive producer Diederick Santer answered questions online to try and calm irate fans. Oddly, he also claimed it was “fantastic” that the storyline had stoked up so much anger.
Santer said: “It’s been incredible.
“It’s fantastic to have made such an impact. I knew from the shiver I felt every time we talked about the story, my tension when I read the script, and my own feelings of devastation for Danielle and Ronnie when I watched the director’s cut, that we were telling an incredibly emotional story and that the audience would have strong feelings about it.
“Honestly, though, I didn’t expect this level of reaction. The story seems to have really touched people, got under their skin, and – in some cases – utterly enraged them.
“That’s fantastic. All you ever hope for as a programme-maker is to connect with your audience and get them to care.”
Santer defended his decision, saying: “It was always very likely that Danielle was going to die.
“It was certainly the story we originally mapped out.
“Along the way, we thought of many alternative outcomes. But this is the one we always came back to.
“In the short-term, it was the most shocking, powerful and emotional, and in the long-term it was the most interesting for our characters – especially Ronnie.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, as we really liked the character, and we love what Lauren did with her.
“It’s the fact that it’s so shocking and seems so wrong which made this such a strong story and episode.”
There is little chance of Danielle returning as Santer has ruled out any comebacks from the dead, similar to the return of Dirty Den.
It’s believed actress Lauren is now looking for theatre work to continue her blossoming career.