EastEnders has defended its decision to kill off Danielle Jones as more than 41,000 fans voice their anger over her exit. Viewers are outraged that troubled teen Danielle, played by Lauren Crace, was killed just as she was reunited with her birth mother, Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Janus). A Facebook group - Bring Back Danielle from EastEnders - launched after Thursday night's hour-long special of the BBC1 soap has attracted 36,000 fans. And an online petition, set up by EastEnders fan Vicky Cole, now has 7,000 signatures. EastEnders' executive producer Diederick Santer has answered questions on the official EastEnders website to try and calm irate viewers - but said he thought it was 'fantastic' that the storyline had stoked up so much anger. "It's been incredible," he said. "It's fantastic to have made such an impact. "Honestly, 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." "All you ever hope for as a programme-maker is to connect with your audience and get them to care." Defending the soap's decision to end the storyline in such a dramatic way, Diederick said: "We thought of many alternative outcomes. But this is the one we always came back to. "In the short term, it was the most interesting for our characters - especially Ronnie. It's the fact that it's so shocking and seems so wrong which made this such a strong story and episode." According to The Mirror, Diederick has ruled out Danielle coming back from the dead, similar to the return of Dirty Den. Click here to watch whatsontv.co.uk's new weekly soaps video preview, the Soap Scoop Get all the latest soap gossip delivered straight to your door. Subscribe to Soaplife magazine today
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.