EastEnders are pulling out all the stops for the big 35th anniversary aboard a river boat cruise on the Thames, which results in a tragic death that changes life in Walford forever.
Of course, the identity of the soon-to-be-deceased remains a closely-guarded secret, but soap bosses insist no one is safe as several storyline threads intertwine and explode across a special week of episodes beginning Monday 17th February.
Each of the week’s four instalments takes place on the same day but is told from different perspectives, ending at the same point where disaster strikes on board. The final outing on Friday 21st February at 8.30pm confirms who dies and explores the aftermath, but we won’t know the full details until it airs.
Gleaned from what EastEnders has revealed ahead of the big event, and going by a brand new shiny set of specially-shot images of soggy locals on the banks of the Thames released to mark the milestone, here is a round-up of the characters involved, what they’re up to as the incident occurs, and the likelihood of their long-term fate…
The Mitchells, Keanu and Callum
The biggest plot playing out across the week is the final showdown between the Mitchells and Keanu Taylor. There’s major beef on all sides after Phil Mitchell’s Christmas discovery that his ex-employee got both his wife Sharon and daughter Louise up the duff, then ordered son Ben Mitchell to have him bumped off… only for hitman Martin Fowler to secretly let him go.
Vengeful Keanu is back, desperate to run off with baby mama Sharon and is holding Ben’s lover Callum Highway hostage. Phil and Ben track Mr Taylor down desperate to save Halfway and there’s a furious fight on the boat. Keanu is back to wrap up his storyline, as Danny Walters is definitely leaving the show for good, and the temptation to kill Callum so Ben gets a heartbreaking grief storyline may prove too much for ‘Enders to resist. However, should we read anything into Callum not being in the pictures? And what about the rumour that Phil is the one who dies in a truly game-changing twist? Surely not…
The Carters, Whitney, Stuart and Rainie
Also at crisis point are Mick and Linda Carter, who’s once-solid marriage is going down the drain faster than the dregs of L’s last gulp of Chardonnay. The divorce papers are signed and paranoid Linda is convinced Mick is cosying up with Whitney Dean. To be fair, they’ve got form but surely Whit’s got enough going on with creepy Leo hiding in her loft? Linda publicly humiliates her husband on the boat and the family’s future looks bleak.
Kellie Bright describes the anniversary as epic and the most intense episodes she’s done on the show, and is playing along with the “It could be any of us” line in recent TV interviews. Danny Dyer teased the death gets a powerful message across: meaning Linda could die as a consequence of her excessive drinking? Stuart Highway, girlfriend Ranie Cross and Mick’s auntie Tina Carter are also pictured – but aren’t Stuart and the Carters still sworn enemies?
The Beales and Dennis
Young Muslim Bobby Beale is beaten by racist thugs and is fighting for his life in hospital as the week begins, and dad Ian Beale is then on a mission for revenge when Bex Fowler tells him who is behind his son’s harassment. Ian storms onto the boat looking to settle a score, and the picture shows him creeping up on teen tearaway Dennis Rickman, who was previously attacked by Bobby in a moment of anger and has since tried to frame him for being a suspected extremist. Could Ian end up killing his oldest friend Sharon Mitchell’s offspring?
Kat, Kush, Big Mo, Bex and Dotty
Quite a random bunch of people, and there’s not much information on how Kat, Kush and Big Mo are involved other than being among the partying punters. What we do know is that feisty teen Dotty Cotton tells Bex Fowler the truth about who’s behind Bobby Beale’s attack, leading to Bex telling Ian and setting off a chain of dramatic events. Jasmine Armfield’s time as introvert Bex will soon be up, as her imminent exit has been confirmed, so she’s prime suspect to go overboard. But is that too obvious? We know she’s leaving, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. And would Big Mo’s demise really be a game-changer? Say it ain’t Mo…
Jack, Denise and Max
The Brannings have been in the background for a while but they’re back in the spotlight as brothers Jack and Max come to blows over a family secret: turns out Jack has been in touch with Max’s daughter Lauren who has split from boyfriend Peter Beale (who returns this week as Dayle Hudson replaces Ben Hardy five years after the character’s exit). Max is not happy at his brother’s interference and the fellas start fighting, with Jack throwing a punch as his distraught girlfriend Denise Fox looks on. Could the brawling brothers end up drowning? Or will Dee get dragged into their feud and pay with her life?
Patrick, Sheree and Isaac
Patrick Trueman has agreed with wife Sheree to keep stepson Isaac Baptiste in the dark that he’s actually his biological father, a result of the recently-wedded pair’s original fling back in the 1980s. But once on board the boat Patrick wants to to come clean – Sheree is hellbent on stopping him blabbing and a dramatic event occurs just before the revelation can be made… Does Patrick die without telling Isaac the truth? Or does newcomer Isaac perish before discovering the identity of his real dad?
Sharon and her baby
Weirdly she’s not in any of these pictures, but the Princess of Walford is definitely a major player in the anniversary and is sure to be at the heart of things. Pregnant by Keanu, cast out by Phil and the Mitchells, supporting Ian through Bobby’s brush with death and ready to do a runner with delinquent son Denny until Ben steps in with a change of plan, Sharon is busy enough before she then goes into labour. Could the Albert Square icon be sensationally killed off in childbirth? As we said, no one is safe. Or are they…?
Missing in action
There’s a few familiar faces conspicuous by their absence – notably Martin Fowler, who has been central to the Keanu/Mitchell plot and spent the last six months turning to the dark side after his efforts to cover up wife Stacey’s attack on Phil put him in brooding Ben’s debt. Surely he must be involved?
The aforementioned creepy Leo is nowhere to be seen – has he dropped his vendetta against Whit?
Lola Pearce, Jay Brown, Ruby Allen, Tiff and Keegan Baker-Butcher, Gray and Chantelle Atkins, Jean Slater and Daniel Cook, the Panesars… Are they all safe from the carnage? Were the actors just on holiday that week, or is the fact they’re not mentioned in any pre-transmission publicity blurb of any significance…?
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