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Emma Harding (previously Pearce) is the mother of Lola Pearce-Brown and grandmother of Lexi Pearce. She was also the ex-wife of Dan Pearce. She made her first appearance on 25 January 2023 and is portrayed by Patsy Kensit.

Backstory

Emma's mother used to give her a spoon full of cod liver oil every morning and was part of a band with all the men admiring her. Emma would sit on a stool at the bar drinking cola, wishing she could be like her.

Emma's mother passed away in a care home during lockdown. Emma tells Lola Pearce-Brown on 21 March 2023 that her mother used to physically and mentally abuse her.

Lola was told by her father, Dan Pearce, that Emma abandoned them both when Lola was three years old. Although, when Emma reunited with Lola, she denied abandoning Lola. Emma said that Dan had abused her and one time threw a boiling kettle at her, which led to her going to hospital. When Emma was let out of hospital, Dan had left and taken Lola with him. Emma claimed she tried to find Lola for years but couldn't find her.

Storylines

After wanting her mother to attend her wedding with Jay Brown, Lola decides that she wants to track her mother down, but ultimately dismisses the idea shortly afterwards. Billy Mitchell, unaware of this, continues to search for Emma. With help from Phil Mitchell, he successfully manages to find her where is she is working as an insurance expert. Billy tells Emma that Lola is getting married and that she wants her mother to be there. Emma questions Billy as to why Dan didn't come to see her, thinking he was still alive but is told that he died ten years ago. Billy tells her that she has a granddaughter, Lexi Pearce, and tells her that Lola wants to meet her before she dies but he abruptly pauses and doesn't tell Emma about Lola's brain tumour and that she is dying. Emma walks away after telling Billy that Lola is better off without her. After Jay and Lola get married, Emma arrives in Albert Square and watches them both from afar.

Emma visits the Fox & Hair salon that Lola works at and pretends to be a woman named Nicole. Emma specifically asks for Lola to do her hair. Emma comes back to the salon the next day and finally comes face to face with Lola. As Lola is cutting Emma's hair, she begins to feel sick from her brain tumour. Lola leaves to take a breather and Denise Fox covers for her, however Emma freaks out and leaves. Emma later watches one of Lola's vlog's detailing her brain tumour battle and Emma begins to cry.

The next day, Emma returns to the salon and meets up with Lola, asking to get her nails done. Lola decides to do it for free after she walked out yesterday. Emma is told about the brain tumour from Lola and tells her that she is doing a vlog but says that a girl called Maisie is bullying her daughter because of it and taunting her over Lola's illness. Later, Emma is seen outside Walford Primary School where she confronts Maisie, she grabs her and threatens Maisie not to upset Lexi again.

Emma later delivers an envelope with a thousand pounds to Lola with a note saying "to help in tough times", which Lola finds weird. Emma is seen watching on from the centre of the Square as Lola tries to find the person who delivered the note.

The next day, Lola receives a call from the school, where they tell her that a woman with blond hair and a camel coloured coat threatened Maisie, Lola assumes it was Sam Mitchell.

Emma, still using the name Nicole, returns the salon again for another appointment where she hides from Billy after he walks in on Lola doing her nails. After she finished, she again decides to tip Lola with a great sum of money which Lola refuses. Lola then questions Emma why she wants to, after which she says that she wanted to "help in tough times" - Lola realises that it was Emma who sent the note with the money. After Billy and Jay arrive at the salon, Billy angrily questions Emma why she is there. Lola questions Billy on how he knows Emma but she remembers that Billy went to try and find her birth mother which leads Lola to realise that Emma is her mum.

Emma goes to Jay and Lola's house to explain why she wasn't in Lola's life, telling her that Dan was abusive towards her and that he threw a boiling kettle over her which resulted her being admitted to hospital for a number of months. She claimed that after leaving hospital, Emma tried to find Lola but Dan had taken her away with him. Lola immediately believes that Emma is lying but Billy vouches for her, however Lola continues to not believe Emma who later shows her the burns she received from Dan. She leaves after telling Lola that at least she got to hear her side of the story. Billy tells Lola about his abusive behaviour to Jamie Mitchell and that he regretted it but all Mitchells had anger within them, including Dan. This leads to Lola running outside where she tries to stop Emma from leaving Walford. After successfully stopping her, Lola tells Emma that she doesn't blame her for what happened and pleaded that they start over, where in which Emma agreed. They both hug and reconcile.

After reconciling, Lola tells Emma that she wants to be there for her daughter for as long as she can and that she didn't always want to be with her mum all the time, which Emma accepts. She tells Lola before she goes that she is at the other end of the phone if she needs anything. Before going, Emma later properly meets and gifts Lexi her locket which holds a picture of Emma and a young Lola. Emma hugs Lexi and whispers in her ear and tells her that there is a note inside and tells her not to show Lola. The note said, "Our little secret" and included a phone number, presuming to be Emma's.

Emma returns to Albert Square when Lexi calls her after Lola had a loss of awareness. Emma walks in on Lola and Jay in the café where they catch up and Emma reveals that Lexi called her because she was concerned which frustrates Lola. When Jay and Lola picked up Lexi from school, she asks them if anyone had been round but Lola denies that no one has. Emma comes around to apologise to Lola for giving Lexi her number and Lola agrees that Emma should be around for Lexi, much to her delight. Emma continues to frustrate Jay when she does Lexi's nails and persuades Lola to not get a grief counsellor for when she eventually passes away because she is already there for Lexi.

On 30 March 2023, Lola reveals that she only has six months to live, Jay confronts Emma telling her not to break Lola's heart if she can't hack it. After a conversation with Sam about parenthood Emma decides to leave, she goes to see Lola and tells her that she is leaving, Emma has allegedly got a job in a America but Lola and Jay are furious and believe it to be convenient, Lola then tells Emma that she never wants to see her again.

Emma briefly returns for Lola's funeral, watching from afar, and is seen by Honey Mitchell.

She returns again on 11 September 2023 and reveals to Ben Mitchell that Lexi has been texting her, Emma attempts to warn Ben as she's concerned about Lexi but Ben doesn't want to hear it and orders her to leave. Ben's husband, Callum Highway, later meets Emma and hears her out, Emma explains that Lexi is being bullied and that she is concerned for Lexi. Ben then sees them talking and once again ignores Emma and orders her to leave, Emma then goes to Peggy's and orders a gin and tonic from Phil. Phil and Emma then start flirting and later sleep together. After their one-night-stand, Emma attempts to blackmail Phil threatening to reveal their affair to Phil's fiancée, Kat Slater, unless Phil gets her access to Lexi, Phil allows Emma to see Lexi once but then tells Emma to leave Walford or he will tell Lexi about Emma abandoning Lola before she died.

List of appearances

Note: (d) denotes a doof-doof.

2023

Appeared in 21/210 episodes

See also

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