|Portrayed by||Diane Parish|
|First Appearance||22 January 1998|
|Last Appearance||6 July 1998|
Lola Christie was introduced in 1998 as a love interest for the character Mick McFarlane, played by Sylvester Williams. At the time, it was the highest profile role for actress Diane Parish. The character was a singer in Mick's jazz band, which suited Diane Parish as she had worked her way through drama school at RADA by doing session singing at a recording studio, though she had never seriously considered singing as a career. Parish has commented, "The only reason I took on the role of Lola was because her storyline wasn't really to do with her singing, that was just incidental. There was a bit of interest at the time - but I have to confess I didn't exactly have Island Records beating my door down with a contract!".
Following the end of her initial six month contract, Parish decided to leave EastEnders. In a 1998 interview she revealed, "I had made a decision that I would stay only six months, whatever happened. But I was tempted to stay longer because it is such a great show and lovely people. Leaving was like ripping away from real friendships - but I'm not in this business to settle down. I get itchy feet and I left to do Picking Up the Pieces which is a real challenge. Being a part of EastEnders is like nothing else, a whole different beast from other shows because practically everyone has watched it at some time and you get to be known wherever you go. I thought that would end when I left, but I still get it even now."
She has since revealed that she found it hard to cope with the fame of being in such a high-profile soap, and in a 2002 interview with the Daily Mirror it was reported that she "hated" her time in the soap so much, that she had no qualms about turning down a long-term contract: "I resented being a 'star' and I resented acting like one. It is cliquey, and once you are in a soap, that is it. The soap just clings on to you. People say: 'Everything you do before a soap and after does not matter.' It is true. EE made me odd. I was bobbing along happily as a jobbing actress, and then EE came along. I found it strange to lose my anonymity. People really believe they own you. They grab you, scream at you. I did not cope well. I became introverted and I stayed in a lot. I felt a bit depressed, too. I felt I had lost something. In the end I just had to get out. I lost the point as to why I was doing the job, and to be perfectly frank it just got messy." However, in the same interview, Parish said she would consider returning to EastEnders if they asked her: "I'd handle things better. I love watching it. Jim Branning is fab." Parish did return to the soap in 2006, but playing a completely different character, Denise Fox. On her decision to return, Parish said, "EastEnders was different back then. There was a spotlight on anyone in it - some actors were akin to pop stars. It's calmer now."
Lola Christie auditioned as a singer for Mick McFarlane's band. Mick was impressed with her singing talents and offered her the job. Mick was attracted to Lola, they started dating, but she was always rushing off without warning and Mick was surprised to discover that Lola had a secret young son named Carl whose father, Neil, had abandoned Lola when she was 5 months pregnant. Mick proved supportive, but Lola eventually left Mick and the band when she got her own recording contract as a soloist.