After a lacklustre Christmas last year, ‘EastEnders’ bosses are pulling out all the stops to make sure the 2017 festive season is one to remember.
Max Branning will be taking centre stage as his revenge storyline reaches an explosive climax, following a year of secrets, lies and surprises.
Reassuringly, the Brannings have a proven track record when it comes to delivering great Christmas episodes (who could forget the reveal of Max and Stacey’s affair in 2007, or the unveiling of Max’s secret wife Kirsty at his nuptials to Tanya in 2012?), so hopes are high for this year.
With Max’s life set in unravel in the weeks leading up to Christmas, when his involvement with Willmott-Brown and his family are laid bare to all Walford’s residents, he finds himself outcast and desperate. But bosses have said the events that follow will change Albert Square forever, after they released the first set of spoilers from the festive instalments.
It’s not set to be a happy Christmas for the Carters either, as the fallout from the sale of the Vic’s freehold comes back to haunt them, placing Mick in danger of losing his freedom.
But how will it all play out? Here are all the questions and theories we have...
Will Max kill Ian and Phil?
Having become increasingly unhinged after being cast out by all that he has wronged, Max tries to take matters into his own hands as he tries to claw his way out of the impossible situation he’s made for himself.
Unfortunately for Ian Beale and Phil Mitchell, he seems to have murder on his mind, as he looks to wreak his final revenge for his wrongful imprisonment for Lucy Beale’s murder - will he go through with it?
Who is Max’s Christmas angel?
With his relationship with Fi Browning likely to be exposed when his involvement with Willmott-Brown is laid bare for the residents, it is likely Carmel Kazemi will be giving Max the old heave-ho.
However, bosses have said he will be seeking solace in the arms “his very own angel this Christmas”, which we’re guessing won’t be either Fi or Carmel.
Could fans see the return of his ex-wife and one true love Tanya? It certainly would make the epic Branning Christmas bosses have been promised, as fans have long been calling for the return of actress Jo Joyner.
What destroys Max?
As the storyline comes to a head, and just when Max thinks he can “find his own saviour”, an unearthed piece of evidence looks set to “trigger his ultimate downfall in an apocalyptic scale”.
Could this be the voicemail Jane Beale left on Stacey Fowler’s phone that was stolen by Bernadette Taylor? Or, with Max’s secrets out in the open, could Jane return to the Sqaure to reveal he tried to kill her in the restaurant fire?
How will it affect Lauren and Abi?
We’ve been promised the Branning family will be “destroyed forever”, and with Lorna Fitgerald and Jacqueline Jossa leaving their roles as Abi and Lauren, could Max seek revenge against them? Or will they leave in pure disgust at what their father has been up to?
Will the Carters lose the Queen Vic?
While it may look like the Carters have managed to raise the cash to save Grafton Hill from seizing the pub from them, something tells us it’s not going to be that straight forward.
Bosses say the family are “set to lose” the Vic, and are determined to “make their last year in Albert Square their best Christmas yet”. Surely Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright aren’t leaving the soap?
The couple will also throw everything into renewing their wedding vows, but their plans could be thrown into doubt thanks to his involvement with a mystery newcomer, which brings us to...
Who is this Aidan McGuire?
Phil Mitchell’s former cell mate is introduced in the coming weeks and soon becomes involved in a scheme with him and Vincent Hubbard.
However, desperate for cash, Mick also finds himself embroiled when he approaches him about a job that could be the answer to all his problems.
We’ve been warned that if Aidan is crossed that he will be “hanging their baubles on the Christmas tree”, so what really is his game, and can he be trusted?
Will Mick go to prison?
Desperate to keep a roof over his family’s head, Mick takes a huge risk that comes with “deadly consequences”. Has he just bought himself a ticket for a stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure?
How will Willmott-Brown and his family be taken down?
We know that Max is set to get his comeuppance, but what about those he has been conspiring with? Well, in an interview with Radio Times, the soap’s creative director, John Yorke, has promised Willmott-Brown and his crew will get what’s coming to them too.
Will Kathy Beale play a part in taking her rapist and his family down, or will the dodgy way they have been acquiring properties on Albert Square come back to haunt them?
One thing that is certain is that Lisa Faulkner is leaving her role as Fi Browning, so we’d imagine the writing is on the wall for the rest of the clan once justice is served.
Catch up on all the latest soap news and spoilers here.