Danielle Jones (East Enders) - Development

Development

Series writer Simon Ashdown explained that Danielle initially chose to conceal her identity from Ronnie due to her fear of being rejected. He described her as "hurt and broken by her life", and hoping to charm Ronnie into liking her before revealing the truth. Crace observed that Danielle was intrigued by Ronnie and the Mitchells, but also worried that she was too different to them and may be a disappointment to Ronnie. Danielle's pregnancy was used as a plot-device to bring the two closer together. Crace deemed the development "a huge thing" for Danielle, as contrary to her constant rejection, the one person she most desired support from was finally showing her affection. However, Ronnie's failure to attend Danielle's second clinic appointment signified "a step back" for the character, leaving her "hurt and distraught" and less willing to confide the truth in Ronnie than ever.

In the aftermath of her abortion, Danielle was depicted as being increasingly emotionally unstable and angry with Ronnie, believing that she deserved to belong to the Mitchell family. The writers had Archie discover her secret as a test of his character, experimenting with whether he would be despicable enough to conceal the truth. Lamb deemed Danielle "a huge threat" to Archie's position as patriarch of the Mitchell family, explaining why he chose to lie that Ronnie was suffering from depression and Danielle ought not tell her. Danielle accepted the lie, believing it to explain Ronnie's "hot and cold" reaction to her, and attempted to care for Ronnie and help her recover. Crace explained that despite their turbulent relationship, Ronnie was all Danielle had ever wanted. Despite seeing Archie as "a domineering figure", Danielle initially trusted him and believed he would reunite her with her mother when the time was right. However, as time passed she became aware of Archie's "true colours" and grew afraid of him.

The ultimate revelation of Danielle's identity was set at Archie's wedding to Peggy (Barbara Windsor), matriarch of the Mitchell family. Crace deemed the wedding "the perfect opportunity" for the storyline to conclude, and Santer explained: "Weddings are great because they bring the community together. A wedding gives you a stage, it gives you an event, the context to play things out, so it felt right that these big Mitchell stories would collide at Peggy's wedding." Writer James Payne concurred that setting the reveal at the wedding helped to make the moment "as dramatic and sensational" as it could possibly be. The episode saw Danielle announce that she was Ronnie's daughter in front of the entire wedding reception party, in what Crace has named her favourite scene on the show. She opined that the disbelief Danielle was faced with was "heartbreaking" and served to highlight the fact that "she came as the outsider and she still is the outsider because no one steps in to help her".

Danielle was killed off minutes after revealing her true identity to Ronnie, dying in her mother's arms. Although different outcomes to the storyline were considered, Santer explained that Danielle dying best preserved Ronnie's status as EastEnders' "tragic heroine character". Treadwell-Collins felt that to allow Ronnie to have her daughter, the "one thing that is key to her character" would serve to progressively weaken her character, and Santer agreed that while it may initially be touching, ultimately the relationship would become boring. The scene in which Danielle dies was filmed during winter, but as it was set in early April, snow had to be cleared away from the set before filming could commence. A body double was used for the moment Danielle was run over. Although sad to leave, Crace felt that the story's conclusion was the right one, and was glad that Ronnie and Danielle finally shared a brief moment in the end, explaining: "It was so important that that tender moment was finally found, because that's all people wanted. It's all Danielle wanted, and it's all Ronnie wants." Crace concluded: "I think Danielle will leave quite a big mark on the Square and on the people in the Square – probably a bigger mark than she did when she was alive.

News of Danielle's death was subject to a media embargo, although several newspapers and magazines including the Radio Times leaked news of Crace's exit in advance of the event. Digital Spy's Kris Green reported that most of the online EastEnders community had anticipated the character's exit from the soap beforehand, some as early as January 2009.

Read more about this topic:  Danielle Jones (East Enders)

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