1. Mel’s exit
With Tamzin Outhwaite having already announced that she’s set to leave, the soap will obviously now be building towards Mel’s eventual exit. And in the weeks ahead, we’ll see the toll Hunter’s death takes on her and how his demise hardens her personality. Says Oates: “It will skew her perception of the world and what she feels it owes her. Maybe she’ll come out of this a more brittle person and that will give us a story.”
2. Honey’s revenge
Fans have been hoping that Honey will get revenge on her two-timing partner Adam. And Sen says that viewers may well get their wish. “Honey will take action. There’s no doubt it,” says the show boss. And despite actress Emma Barton currently competing on this year’s Strictly, Honey won’t be off our screens.
“I’ll manage both as I’m a hard worker. Honey’s not going anywhere; she’s just swapping the tabard for a bit of sparkle,” Barton told RadioTimes.com.
3. Linda’s battle with booze
The Queen landlady will develop a drinking problem as she struggles with son Ollie’s suspected autism and husband Mick’s panic attacks. “In telling Linda’s story, we hope that anyone in her situation or those around them notice the signs of alcoholism and seek the help needed,” says Sen. EastEnders is working with education charity Drinkaware, who raise awareness on the misuse of alcohol.
4. Tiffany and Keegan get closer
The pair’s currently tentative relationship is set to become more of a focus. Teased Sen: “Tiff and Keegan’s burgeoning relationship is lovely. It’s a wonderful dynamic, superbly performed by Maisie Smith and Zack Morris. There’s a real chemistry between them; oads of warmth and heart and we’re really investing in that.” So will there be happiness for the wayward teens? Is Tiff set to confide in Keegan about her sexual assault? And what will lovelorn Bernie make of it all?
5. Bianca’s mystery man
Eagle-eyed viewers will have spotted Bianca looking shaken to see a mystery man at Whitney’s wedding. The guy in question appears to have some kind of hold over her – something that is set to now be explored further.
“He’s connected to her past and it’s part of the reason she didn’t rush back when Tiff was involved in the gang,” says Oates. What the show bosses also want is for Bianca’s brief reappearance to fuel further drama.
Adds Sen: “This kicks off another long-term story for them all. Everyone was really excited about getting Bianca back, but we had to make sure that it kicked off a story that will sustain now for 12 to 18 months.” And on whom will it impact the most? “It’s fair to say that this will be a chapter in Whitney’s story,” says Oates.
6. Ballum forever?
Ben taking a bullet made Callum realise how deep his feelings are for him, so assuming he survives being shot could Ballum make a proper go of it? “The moments with Callum give the Ben stability and safety he needs at this point,” says Max Bowden (Ben).
“There’s so much the characters give to each other. It’s a really exciting story to tell, about a man coming out and feeling accepted – that is so important and I’m glad we’re lucky enough to do it.” Dare we hope for a wedding where Halfway isn’t jilted?
7. Chantelle fights back
“Chantelle and Gray’s domestic abuse story has built quite gently,” says Oates, “but as it continues we’ll be pushing it. We’ve deliberately built this public perception of who Gray is and the kind of marriage they have. There’s great stuff coming up.” A life-changing discovery by Chantelle on Tuesday 10th September when the beaten wife holds her own against her husband kicks off the next phase of the plot.
8. What next for Whitney?
Oates teases the end of her romance with Callum is just the beginning for heartbroken Whit: “We know where we’re taking Whitney across the next couple of years.” Sen adds: “She’s so compelling and Shona plays tragedy really well. Now we’ve pushed her front-and-centre, this story becomes a chapter in a much longer arc. Over the next 18 months, she learns from everything she’s been through – where do we go with someone who has a tragic past and can never find happiness?”
9. Keanu and Sharon’s Christmas cracker
He was prepared to sacrifice his life for Louise but is there still a part of courageous Keanu that yearns for old flame Sharon, especially now he knows the baby she’s carrying is his? “Sheanu is going to blow up,” promises Oates. “I think it’s safe to say that’s going to be pretty big at Christmas…” Could both Sharon and Lou’s bubbas both be delivered at the most wonderful time of the year?
10. Stuart’s bad romance
Wedding week continued the rehabilitation of Stuart Highway, as he provided a sympathetic, non-judgmental shoulder to cry on for both confused little brother Callum and betrayed bride Whitney – this time last year he was public enemy number one, framing Mick Carter for attempted murder. But could his volatile union with Rainie derail his transformation into a good guy? “Stainie are one of our newest couples,” grins Oates. “Can you imagine the chaos of these two staying together? It’s going to be amazing…”
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