Drama for the Brannings in EastEnders Christmas special
The Branning family faces their greatest upheaval yet as they take centre stage on Christmas Day in Albert Square.
The “catastrophic” hour-long episode of EastEnders sees Max (Jake Wood) face the consequences for his dastardly actions over the past year.
Recent weeks have seen Max at his lowest ebb as daughters Abi (Lorna Fitzgerald) and Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa) question whether they will be able to forgive him for his revenge plot against Walford.
The evil plans, which businessman James Willmott-Brown (William Boyde) helped him with, followed Max being wrongly imprisoned for the murder of Lucy Beale.
The Christmas Day episode of the BBC soap, written by Simon Ashdown (the creator of the Brannings), sees Max in a desperate last attempt to reconcile with his children.
It seems like he might have made progress with pregnant Abi when she joins him at Stacey Fowlers’ for Christmas dinner, but there is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
Stacey’s phone – which is returned to its rightful owner on Christmas morning after being stolen by Chatham and Riley Taylor – contain voicemails from Jane Beale revealing that Max killed Steven Beale.
And while Max does everything he can to stop Stacey (Lacey Turner) from listening to the messages, it’s only a matter of time before people find out the truth.
Meanwhile, 10 years since the Christmas episode when Max and Stacey’s affair was revealed, things come full circle and EastEnders boss John Yorke has said that the couple’s storyline will end once and for all.
The creative director, who returned to the soap earlier this year, added there will be “plenty of shocks and surprises” throughout the festive episode.
It’s widely known that Fitzgerald and Jossa are leaving the show, and while viewers will have to wait and see exactly how they make their exits, the actresses told the Press Association the “intense” Christmas scenes have been really “sad” to film.
“There’s been moments when we have just a look between us … all of a sudden, the look means so much more, because we know what’s about to happen in the story and where it’s going,” said Jossa.
“Afterwards, I was like, ‘Ooh Lorna, I didn’t like that, I felt all funny’, because everything is so important now, and it is telling a story and it’s coming together with that story, so it is really sad.”
She added: “I haven’t stopped [crying]. It’s a joke, really.”
Elsewhere in the Square, viewers are promised some festive joy.
Comic relief is provided in the form of Danny Dyer’s character Mick Carter, as he and wife Linda (Kellie Bright) prepare to renew their wedding vows.
Putting the fact they might lose their beloved Queen Vic pub to the back of their minds, they throw a huge party for the residents of Walford.
But in true EastEnders fashion, the Carters’ Christmas Day doesn’t go smoothly either, as criminal mastermind Aidan Maguire (Patrick Bergin) arrives with a cunning plan up his sleeve.
Christmas Day in Walford continues in the Boxing Day episode, as the horrifying repercussions of Christmas Day will unfold.
Wood, who has played Max for 12 years, would not be drawn out on whether his character will be able to redeem himself.
He told Press Association: “We’ll find out, but I hope he can be. Obviously that decision is out of my hands, but if it is the end of the story, it’s been a great story. Hopefully we will see him beyond this, but if we don’t, it is what it is.”
EastEnders will be broadcast on Christmas Day at 9.00pm and Boxing Day at 7.00pm