EastEnders’s executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins has promised that the BBC1 soap will hark back to its formative years in the run-up to the 30th anniversary in February and that the big birthday episodes will be “really ambitious”.
“We’ll be building towards the anniversary with big stories starting to rumble for Dot, Ian, Sharon and Phil,” said the show’s boss. “We really want to go back to our origins.”
Treadwell-Collins also promised new drama for Kat and Alfie, who are currently reeling from the latter’s admission that he started the recent house fire that left his wife with permanent scarring. “Their story for next year is new, fresh and exciting. And for characters that have been around for a long time, that’s very hard to do. And hopefully we’ve achieved that.”
Christmas’s episodes see the Carter family imploding after Mick finds out about Linda’s rape ordeal at the hands of Dean. But the reverberations look likely to be felt well past the festive season. “Christmas is not the end of the Carter story. It’s just the beginning. Mick and Linda are going to fight to save their marriage. And Shirley is going to have to choose between her two sons. LIke the Meryl Streep film, this is Shirley’s Choice.”
February’s anniversary will feature Lucy Beale’s killer finally unmasked, with the start of 2015 seeing the field of suspects narrowing considerably. “The Lucy story trickles through Christmas and then steps up a gear in the new year. By the end of New Year’s Day, we cut the suspects to 11. So 11 people will be in the frame.”
And with the 30th birthday featuring live elements throughout the week culminating in a live 30-minute episode, Treadwell-Collins realises that the stakes are high. “We’re being really ambitious,” he says. “There are a lot of surprises. I don’t want to oversell it too much. But if we pull it off, it’ll be good. I’ll either be very happy or I’ll never work again!”
You can watch a trailer for the Christmas episodes below. And beneath that, there’s a 60-second rundown of all the Christmas and New Year plotlines: