We can always rely on EastEnders to pull out all the stops with its festive episodes and this year will be no exception, with a collection of dramatic storylines all coming to a head over the next few weeks.
The show has announced a large number of Christmas and New Year spoilers today, ramping up the excitement for the high-stakes scenes to come. But just in case you’re struggling to digest all of the gossip, we’re rounding up the highlights right here, all in one place.
Which characters and storylines will be taking centre stage this year? Read on to find out…
1. Alfie considers leaving again
Alfie may be determined to make things work with Kat right now, but his resolve weakens on Christmas Day when the baby drama with Hayley finally comes to a head. Although Alfie is determined to give Kat a Christmas to remember, he’s stopped in his tracks when he makes an alarming discovery that could change everything.
After a worrying turn of events – which of course, we can’t reveal just yet – Alfie decides that it’s best for him to leave Walford. Before he gets a chance, Hayley suggests an alternative plan which leaves Alfie with food for thought. What can it be?
2. Alfie and Hayley’s baby secret is exposed
Alfie and Hayley probably shouldn’t waste too much time with their secretive plans. The situation is quickly taken out of their own hands as the Christmas Day episode progresses.
Show bosses have teased “a dramatic chain of events” which leads to Kat and the rest of the family finally discovering that Alfie is the father of Hayley’s baby girl. Can Kat ever forgive Alfie for this?
3. There’s a massive twist involving the Slaters
Shane Richie faced the media to tease EastEnders‘ Christmas episodes recently and promised a massive twist that nobody will see coming.
“There is such a big shock on Christmas Day,” Shane explained. “Obviously I can’t tell you what it is, but even when I read it, I went: ‘Oh, you can’t do that, you can’t do that, we’ve tipped it over the edge now!’ And it’ll be interesting because I’m doing panto on Boxing Day, so I’m sitting there thinking: ‘I can put that gag in.’
“It’s just a real, massive cliffhanger on Christmas Day. It’ll be interesting with social media, I will be so intrigued to see the reaction on social media with the shock and how everything plays out after that.”
4. Kim gives birth
Phil gets more than he bargained for when he pays a trip to the Minute Mart on Christmas Eve and ends up delivering Kim’s baby. When Phil gets locked in the store room with Kim and she suddenly goes into labour, he’s forced to help in the absence of anyone else to look after her.
Following the safe arrival of Kim’s child, she’s full of gratitude to Phil and tries to find a way to thank him after she’s been discharged from hospital a few days later.
On December 28, Kim invites Phil and Dennis around for a belated Christmas meal and even gives him a present. Phil is touched by the gesture – who’d have thought he’d be affected by the Christmas spirit?
5. Mitch and Kandice both return
It’s another busy Christmas for the Taylors, with two familiar faces making a return. Kandice (played by former S Club 7 star Hannah Spearritt) is on the guest list when Karen hosts a Boxing Day meal, but there’s an unexpected arrival when Keegan’s dad Mitch returns and asks to see his son.
Karen isn’t happy to see Mitch and sends him away, but she’s shocked later on when she realises that Kandice has intervened and sneakily hidden Mitch away in the bathroom. How will Keegan feel about seeing his father again? And why has Kandice decided to team up with Mitch?
6. Keanu and Louise betray Keegan
Keanu has his own distraction during the Taylor family’s Boxing Day meal when he receives a voicemail from Sharon Mitchell, who’s still away from the Square. What does his on-off lover want to tell him?
Later on, Louise betrays Keegan by trying to kiss Keanu and he throws caution to the wind by deciding to respond. Is this a one-off mistake, or the start of (another) affair for Keanu?
7. Jean and Ian’s relationship is revealed
Jean and Ian become Albert Square’s unlikely new couple in the build-up to Christmas and we can confirm they won’t manage to keep their romantic connection under wraps for long.
On Christmas Eve, Hayley exposes Jean and Ian’s relationship, and Stacey is furious over the revelation. Stacey doesn’t waste much time before confronting Ian, but she warms to the idea when she realises how much Jean likes him. How will Ian deal with a chaotic Christmas dinner at the Slaters’?
8. Tension between Phil and Ray
Phil may be befriending Kim over the Christmas period, but it looks like he’ll also have a new enemy on his hands – Ray Kelly.
There’s a tense situation for the two alpha males when Ray has a surprising request for Phil. Never one to be pushed around, Phil firmly refuses, but may be left with food for thought when Ray makes a secret phone call and returns with an ultimatum…
9. Stacey reaches out to Max
Just like in 2017, EastEnders‘ hour-long Christmas episode this year has been penned by acclaimed scriptwriter Simon Ashdown, who helped to create the Branning family and some of their most memorable storylines.
With this in mind, perhaps it’s no surprise that we can expect a heartwarming catch-upfor Max and Stacey in the Christmas episode. Taking some time away from her family, Stacey checks on Max – knowing that he’ll be haunted by memories of the tragedy he suffered this time last year. Expect a touching moment between them as their history is revisited.
10. Linda makes a worrying discovery about Mick
We know that Mick will be back home for Christmas, but the drama for the Carter family seems to be far from over.
On Christmas Eve, eagle-eyed Linda spies a suspicious moment between Mick and Phil. Linda probes Mick about what he’s been up to and makes a worrying discovery, wondering what he’s done. Is this related to his revenge plan against Stuart?
11. Mel’s plan comes to a head on New Year’s Day
Looking ahead to the start of 2019, Mel Owen’s revenge plan against her deceitful fiancé Ray Kelly will come to a head in an explosive hour-long New Year’s Day episode.
In the build-up to the big day, there are plenty of last-minute hurdles for Mel. Mel meets Maddie again and worries that she’s having second thoughts about their scheme, while she also has her own fears that Ray could finally be getting suspicious.
When Hunter overhears Mel ranting about Ray on the eve of the wedding, she also has to explain herself in front of her teenage son, worrying that he could scupper everything.
As the wedding arrives on New Year’s Day itself, Mel is still fixated on the idea of getting revenge, but things spiral out of control and there’s an explosive series of events. Will Mel get the outcome she’s hoping for?
12. Whitney might be pregnant
2019 also gets off to a surprising start for Whitney and her boyfriend Halfway.
On New Year’s Day, Whitney reveals that she might be pregnant and is surprised by Halfway’s reaction to the news. Will it be a happy occasion for the couple or the start of some problems?
13. Tiffany is confronted for mistreating Bernadette
Bernadette is left upset once again over the Christmas period when Tiffany continues to snub her in favour of spending time with troublesome Evie. One incident is particularly upsetting, as Tiffany stands Bernadette up without explanation because Evie has invited her to a party.
In the first week of 2019, Karen grows concerned about Bernadette’s increasingly emotional moods and Keegan tips off his mum that Tiffany is to blame. Karen decides to confront Tiffany about what’s going on, but we have a feeling that Bernadette won’t appreciate her interference.
EastEnders airs an hour-long festive episode on Christmas Day at 9.15pm on BBC One.