Character creation and developmentEdit
Della and her girlfriend Binnie Roberts were the first lesbian couple to be featured in EastEnders. Their inclusion was an attempt to portray positive examples of characters who just happen to be homosexual. Their lesbian kiss accounted for some 45 percent of viewer complaints to the BBC regarding EastEnders in 1994; provoking more complaints than any other television programme that year (according to research published by the Broadcasting Standards Council in 1995).
In 2005 their lesbian kiss was featured in E4's X Rated: Top 20 Most Controversial TV Moments; a documentary examining British TV's most talked about on-screen moments. It was placed at number 11 in the chart and, according to the poll, received an estimated 486 viewer complaints and 180 column inches in the British press.
In 1995, bisexual actress Pam St. Clement, who plays Pat Evans, was asked if EastEnders' first lesbian storyline suffered from "seeming to follow the pack rather than lead it". She commented, "I think they realised there was something missing, but having given themselves that brief they didn't know what the fuck to do with it. I think Michael Cashman made Colin Russell so successful because he is a gay man. I'd never argue for somebody having to be a part to do it - you don't have to be a murderer to play Othello - and I think the two young girls [who played Della and Binnie] did what they could, but they couldn't really give the programme any help."
Della arrived in Walford in March 1994 as a new assistant to the market trader, Sanjay Kapoor. Della was a former hairdresser, who had gone to the same school as the barman Steve Elliot. Realising that Della had a talent that could be a potential money spinner, Steve decided that it would be a good idea to go into business with her. He and Della made plans to open a hairdressing salon in George Street. The salon, Kool for Kutz, opened in April that year.
After some problems at home, Della came to live with Steve at The Queen Victoria, and Steve soon began seeing her as more than just his business partner. He actively pursued her, which she seemed to encourage. However, Della was only leading Steve on in order to mask the fact that she was a lesbian, and days later he caught her in bed with her girlfriend Binnie. Steve threw Della out as a result, which prompted a feud between him and Binnie. Della was mortified that her sexuality had been uncovered and her shame was often a major source of concern for her girlfriend, who was far more open about things. Steve was eventually forced to come to terms with Della's homosexuality, although he harboured feelings for her for a long time after, and made several attempts to convert her into a heterosexual.
Binnie and Della soon moved into a bedsit on the Square, but problems arose when Natalie Price heard a rumour that they were lesbians. She started telling anyone who cared to listen about how disgusting and unnatural the pair were. This reaction only sought to increase Della's trepdidation about living as a lesbian and she started denying the rumours, claiming that she'd never slept with a woman before in her life. Infuriated by Della's shame, Binnie threatened to leave the Square, which forced Della to prioritise. In order to convince Binnie to stay, Della kissed her in the middle of Bridge Street, which really gave the gossips something to talk about.
Binnie spent most of her time on the Square trying to force Della to conform to her lesbian ideals. She regularly pressurised her to come out to her mother and generally bossed her around making demands, which often caused blazing rows between them. Despite this, Binnie usually had Della's best interests at heart and the two genuinely loved each other. However, in January 1995 they began to go through a bad patch in their relationship, and Della turned to her old friend Steve for support. They arranged an evening out, which again led Steve to think that she had changed her mind about dating him. After a flirtatious night and plenty of cocktails, Steve tried to convince Della that she wasn't really gay and went to kiss her. Furious, Della stormed off and once again left Steve looking the fool. Back in Walford an insanely jealous Binnie jumped to all the wrong conclusions and berated Della for sleeping with Steve. After witnessing them argue, Steve decided to cut his losses and pull out of partnership at the salon. He signed the lease over to a gratfeul Della, and promised to never make a pass at her ever again. Binnie eventually accepted their explanation and she and Della reconciled.
Later in the year, Della began to grow disillusioned with life in Walford, and she and Binnie decided to make new start of things in Ibiza. After tying up loose ends, including selling the lease of her salon and firing her obnoxious assistant Lydia, Della decided that the time had come to inform her mother, Alice, about her sexual orientation. However, after continuous stalling, Alice eventually showed up in Walford and was accidentally informed by Peggy Mitchell instead. Unaware of this, Della continued to lie to her mother about her relationship with Binnie, but on her final day she finally plucked up the courage and telephoned her mother with the news. Alice relayed that she already knew, and was happy that she had finally told her the truth. Della then left with her conscience clear. Her last appearance was in May 1995.
- ↑ Brake, Colin (1995). EastEnders: The First 10 Years: A Celebration. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-37057-2.
- ↑ "Broadcast Concerns 1994-1995", Broadcasting Standards Council. URL last accessed on 2006-11-06.
- ↑ "Tomorrow some 20 million people will tune in to EastEnders", The Independent, 24 December 1995. Retrieved on 2007-07-04.