Why EastEnders Christmas rows are the best in soapland

Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins explains why nobody does festive fury better than the inhabitants of Albert Square

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EastEnders has a long tradition of explosive Christmasses, from Den serving Angie with divorce papers and Trevor attacking Little Mo to Tanya discovering Max’s affair with Stacey.

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People sometimes wonder why we can’t, just once, give the residents of Albert Square a truly happy Christmas. In fact, EastEnders did try to do that one year and, according to Pam St Clement [Pat Evans], it went down like a lead balloon. British audiences don’t want cuddles on Albert Square at Christmas. They want great stories, flawed and honest characters, shocks, downfalls, comeuppances and families ripped apart — with a good dollop of trademark gallows humour.

That’s what EastEnders does best. This year, we promise to give you a real EastEnders cracker as stories that have been building over the past year come to a head. With secrets spilling out, Mick and Linda’s Christmas turns from magical to monstrous.

Stan and Aunt Babe embody EastEnders characterisation at its best — two slightly grotesque, Dickensian characters who have both sweet and sour elements to them. In Timothy West and Annette Badland we also have two of the country’s finest older actors, adding pathos beneath the darkness. Stan is gruff, racist and homophobic, but old age and illness have started to soften him — enough to make him grudgingly don a Santa suit.

Aunt Babe is all trifle-making sweetness on the surface, but viewers have discovered she’s the most ruthless of the Carters, with her own warped moral code and dark, buried secrets. Lucy Beale’s murder will also take a very eerie twist, Kat and Alfie try to save their marriage, Auntie Kim returns with a new coat and a new secret, and Ronnie (left) and Nick face off over Dot’s turkey, taking us into an epic New Year.

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So, no matter how many arguments your family has at Christmas, they don’t hold a candle to the drama going on at the Queen Vic.