Danielle’s Dead; Long Live EastEnders
This is possibly a poisoned chalice of a subject, but here goes. After an interminably long play out, we finally saw Danielle Jones reveal to Ronnie Mitchell that she was, in fact, her daughter.
I know I’m not alone in feeling that this was stretched out for too long a time, that it had become hard to actually care if or when the truth came out. Nevertheless, the payoff was one of the best episodes in a long time, with fine acting from both Samantha Janus and Lauren Crace. In fact, it seems a shame that it had to wait until her final performance for us to see how good an actress Ms Crace is. Why did she have to simper and fret for quite so long? Press reports suggested that even the actress herself grew tired of playing someone so meek and petrified all the time.
But, flaws apart, it was - ultimately - gripping stuff. I know full well that there are certain viewers who are dismayed at the tragic demise of a character who seems to have captured many hearts. There are also those who are concerned about the depiction of an adoptees search for her birth mother being so tortuous and doomed.
Then there are those who bemoan the fact that yet again, EastEnders has opted for the gloomy, depressing ending. However, Series Story Producer, Dominic Treadwell Collins pointed out on ’EastEnders Revealed’ what would have happened if Danielle had survived? Would she and Ronnie had gone to the park for an ice cream together? Very nice, but also rather dull. I have to agree with this; shocking as it was to kill Danielle off, it makes for potentially dramatic storylines for both Ronnie and the increasingly repetitive Stacey Slater. This is, after all, a continuing drama and that’s what EastEnders is good at; creating interesting characters and taking them down unexpected paths. If anything, attempts at contrived levity are often the clumsiest aspects of the programme: see Heather and Shirley’s trip to George Michael’s wheelie bin.
So, although many people are upset and even angry about the loss of Danielle, to the extent of irrationally demanding her return, they have to surely appreciate that EastEnders is always going to be greater than the sum of its parts. Even if there are individual, iconic performances, the programme itself is always the star. It has to be in order to continue and thrive, which in spite of occasional dips in quality, it does very well.