Next week in soapland: Fiona’s Corrie return, grief for Bailey on EastEnders and Holby City’s Essie’s dilemma

All the major soap storylines coming up in the week ahead

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Monday 19 August

Mucky Moira and Naughty Nate sounds like a dubious late-night cabaret act, but Emmerdale (7pm ITV) are pinning their hopes on them providing some summer sizzle for the soap.

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Fervent flirtation develops into a full-on affair this week as Mrs Dingle finds herself unable to resist her often semi-naked employee, jeopardising her marriage to Cain.

It’s unfortunate that yet another popular couple is being torn asunder after the likes of David and Tracy, and Bob and Brenda, hit the skids. Even Robron are on the way out with actor Ryan Hawley leaving later this year — can’t anyone stay together in this village?

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The bunting is out in EastEnders (8pm BBC1) to celebrate Phil’s return from hospital, with Ben throwing his dad a welcome party. A bit rich, considering he tried to kill Phil while he was in a coma, but that’s the Mitchells for you. Phil has unfinished business with Kat and heads over to the Slaters’ wanting a word, as he’s remembered details of his attack…

Tuesday 20 August

Essie is thrown off course in Holby City (8pm BBC1) when an encounter with a stranger brings back painful memories. This distressed new face claims to have known her late husband, Raf, who was gunned down by Hanssen’s disturbed and doomed son Fredrik, and they form an alarmingly quick connection. A life-changing pact is made, but who exactly has good-natured Essie got herself involved with?

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Max Bowden is doing a terrific job as the latest Ben Mitchell in EastEnders (7.30pm BBC1). I was a big fan of his predecessor, Harry Reid, and following him was a tricky task — but Bowden has brought a sinister swagger to the role that masks a convincing vulnerability stemming from his abandonment issues.

Fuming Phil is on the warpath now as he demands the truth from his son about who really whacked him over the head — but Ben is hiding much more from Daddy Dearest, which could all come spilling out in tonight’s confrontation.

Wednesday 21 August

Many soap storylines are built on contrivance that requires huge leaps of faith, but I’m really struggling with the twist in Coronation Street (7.30pm, 8.30pm ITV) of the long-departed Fiona Middleton turning out to be Emma’s mum, and the possibility that Steve McDonald may be her biological dad. After 18 months as a trainee hairdresser at Audrey’s salon, why has Emma never once mentioned that her mother used to work there and lived on the street for many years?

Tonight is set to be a roller coaster of emotions for Emma as she buries the man she believed was her dad, and DNA results confirm the identity of her real father. Plus, we clap eyes on Fiona for the first time since 1998, but don’t expect a showdown on the cobbles: I understand Angela Griffin has only filmed a brief video call with her daughter to explain this rejigged backstory. Wouldn’t it have been better to have had Griffin in the same room for such a life-changing reveal?

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Thursday 22 August

EastEnders (7.30pm BBC1) gives award-winning father/daughter duo Mitch and Bailey time to shine as the inquest into Dinah’s death looms. Unsurprisingly, it’s a difficult day for Bailey, who is confronted with the reality of her mum’s death, and her dad and extended family try to keep her spirits up. But it’s Mitch who ends up being the one that needs looking after, as he struggles with how to help his little girl deal with her grief. Despite the morbid subject matter, any scenes with these two are always compelling.

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Maxine’s Munchausen’s syndrome storyline in Hollyoaks (6.30pm C4) reaches its most jaw-dropping moment of audacity when she attends her own “living funeral”, organised by distraught Damon for his wife, who he believes is dying of a terminal illness. Sienna urges her friend to admit it’s all a lie, but misguided Max is so addicted to the attention garnered by her fake illness, she has no real desire to come clean. Dark, but deliciously entertaining.

Friday 23 August

Picking the wrong fella must be pretty high up on the CV of Eileen Grimshaw in Coronation Street (7.30pm, 8.30pm ITV), along with a talent for put-downs and a superb command of the Street Cars switchboard. Reeling from her latest romantic disaster after discovering Polish builder Jan was running a human trafficking ring (in fact, he was working under cover for the police, but he couldn’t tell her that, so she still thinks he was a baddie), Weatherfield’s unluckiest lady tells Tim she’s sworn off men. You can’t blame her, but if Eileen doesn’t have a love life, surely the Corrie plots will dry up?

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Talking of poor relationship choices, Gail Robinson is back in Neighbours (1.45pm, 5.30pm Channel 5) to warn Terese off tying the knot with her ex, Paul. Spiky-haired, spiky-mannered Gail first appeared back in the Scott and Charlene era as the second of five Mrs Robinsons. Maybe Gail and Eileen could form an international soap singletons support group?