Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint. With a firm reputation for excellent customer service, the business continues to support the community in a variety of ways, including comparing fiction and reality! Last night, BBC soap ‘EastEnders’ aired the funeral of popular character, Lola Pearce-Brown. Becky discusses what the show got right and wrong – there are spoilers ahead…
As we’ve shared via the blog before, many films and TV shows refuse to let the truth get in the way of their narrative, presenting a variety of technical blunders during the build up to and conducting of funerals. Recently, Lola Pearce-Brown died due to a brain tumour, and circumstances around her funeral are something that we at Freeman Brothers found interesting.
The good: what EastEnders got right
I’d like to commend the team for clearly handling an emotional storyline well. One of our previous gripes has been that funerals on British TV shows happen too quickly, particularly when suspicious circumstances have been involved.
Lola’s death was – in the technical and legal sense – expected, and I think that the timeline based on local availability was accurate. Due to the requirements of her friends and family, availability of a crematorium, minister, and funeral director were required, and to wait several weeks for that plus an ideal date is accurate.
There were also some great representations of differing responses to grief – Lola’s family members and friends are seen expressing themselves in a variety of ways, with some seeming to ‘cope’ better than others. It was good to see a range of conversations about bereavement, and what the concerns of different characters are.
Additionally, there had clearly been conversations involving Lola prior to her death, as to what she would like the funeral to be like. Whilst her family and friends are seen having slight disagreements – which we find to be normal too! – they are also clear on what they want, which I really like to see. As a result, there are some brilliant personalisations to the funeral, from a bespoke casket with Lola’s name carved into it, to the casket also being decorated by hand when visitors saw her in the Chapel of Rest. Mourners were instructed to wear colourful clothing, and the floral tributes also matched this stipulation.
The bad: what EastEnders got wrong
I found two significant errors across the episodes which have aired so far this week. During the episode originally broadcast on Monday 26th June, Lola’s immediate family are seen meeting with the Minister who is to lead the service… which is due to take place the following day. This is unrealistic, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Ordinarily, you would meet with your chosen officiant at least a week prior to the service, so that the officiant can ensure that the venue has details for music and other technical elements.
The other error is something that we’ve seen many times before, and is always difficult to watch. At the crematorium, six characters step forward to carry Lola’s coffin into the venue. The moment they pick it up to shoulder it, it’s obvious that the coffin is empty. Whilst it is normal for professionals to make this manoeuvre look easy, it would also still be clear that the coffin contains weight and, even when a person is small, this would not be insignificant. This feels like something that it shouldn’t be difficult for production crews to overcome – anything from blankets to sand could be in the coffin, as long as it’s something to make it clear that it’s not simply full of air!
The other: what EastEnders could do better
Apart from weighting the coffin and further improving their handling of timelines, I actually think that EastEnders did a brilliant job with this funeral. I’d also really like to see EastEnders make use of an officiant who isn’t a Church of England Minister. Whilst this is clearly appropriate when that is the character’s faith, there are many other options these days, including celebrants, other faith leaders, or even for family and friends to conduct the service themselves.
Although I’m no longer a regular EastEnders viewer, I found some of the scenes I watched very moving, and commend the show for a job well done.
Have you followed this storyline? What did you think?