The secrets, lies and deceit of an eventful Christmas continues to have a huge impact into the new year for Walford's residents, as EastEnders lines up another 12 months of high drama.
And there's even more to enjoy as 2022 kicks off, when the BBC soap returns to broadcasting 30-minute episodes for the first time since COVID restrictions impacted filming in 2020 - from January, three out of the four weekly instalments will be back to normal while Tuesday's outing remains at 20 minutes for the time being.
So what's in store in Albert Square? Here is RadioTimes.com's epic guide to EastEnders in 2022!
The end for Gray - at last!
Chelsea Atkins (Zaraah Abrahams) starts 2022 trapped in a marriage to abusive Gray Atkins (Toby-Alexander Smith), and getting away from her homicidal husband won't be easy with baby Jordan fighting for his life in hospital. "Gray ups the ante with his manipulation, using Chelsea's fragile state to his advantage," says our Walford insider. "Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) and Kheerat Panesar (Jaz Deol) are determined to to help catch him out and get justice for Chantelle - it's only a matter of time before Gray gets his comeuppance." And with Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) renewing her search for missing Tina, could she be the one to expose his killing spree?
Zack's desperate plea
The truth that Zack Hudson (James Farrar) drove Jade and baby Alyssa away is out, and Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) is furious her own brother's actions mean she may never her granddaughter again. Remorseful Zack is determined to make things right with Sharon, so is this really the last we've seen of dead Denny's little girl? And can the siblings ever put this fallout behind them?
Phil banged up?
A snap decision over the festive period sees Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) in serious trouble and Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) teaming up with his old flame Sharon to save him from the long arm of the law. But our soap snoop teases there are bigger problems just around the corner as the hard man rings in the new year: "Phil faces his biggest challenge and will be forced to make the ultimate decision that puts everything he believes as a Mitchell to the test…"
Aaron puts his family in danger
The sinister extent to which Aaron Monroe (Charlie Wernham) is embroiled in far right extremism became apparent over the terrifying events of Christmas, and the sly city slicker's loved ones could end up being the ones paying the price for his ill-advised ideology. "It's make or break for the Monroe family at the start of 2022," says our source. "There are huge decision to be made that will have a lasting impact on Walford's newest clan."
New love for Stacey
Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) had a busy 2021 - she came out of prison with a new wife, resisted saying 'I told you so,' when Ruby's lies were exposed and was briefly reunited with big brother Sean. So what's in store for 2022? "Stacey has a new business venture, and hopes she might hit the jackpot with her love life too," whispers our source. "But when Jean Slater (Gillian Wright) demands her attention elsewhere, Stacey has to step up and struggles to get Kat on side." What dramas are about to befall the sassy Slater clan?
Stuart rejects cancer treatment
Stressed Stuart Highway (Ricky Champ) continues to ignore his recent cancer diagnosis, with only Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) in the know as he refuses to fill in Rainie Highway (Tanya Franks) and Callum Highway (Tony Clay) in on the tragic truth. "He is determined to bury his head in the sand, even when it comes to treatment," sighs our spokesperson. "The Highways have a lot to figure out." You can say that again…
Bernie returns - with or without the baby?
It's not just cancer Stu is facing, it's also impending fatherhood as the due date for surrogate mum Bernie Taylor (Clair Norris) approaches. The pregnant teen fled the Square to get some space and is due back in the early part of 2022. While she was away, could she have had second thoughts about giving the baby up? "The Highways have a lot to figure out - Rainie and Stuart are desperate to make their dreams of being a family come true. However, will everything go to plan as Bernie returns?"
Dotty finds an ally
Dotty Cotton (Milly Zero) is public enemy number one after she and Uncle Rocky Cotton (Brian Conley) had their scam= exposed over Christmas, so she could do with a friend as she hits rock bottom. Pity she hasn't got any - yet. "Dotty has been outcast since the recent revelations," reveals our source. "She refuses to become like either of her damaged parents, but can you ever escape your family? When she has no one left to turn to she leans on Vinny Panesar (Shiv Jalota) for support and finds an unlikely alliance." Can dastardly Dotty be trusted as she tries to atone for her sins, or is she more like dad Nasty Nick than she realises?
Janine plays dirty to get Mick
The surprise appearance of Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) over Christmas was a treat for fans, but appeared to put the final nail in the coffin of the Carter marriage and Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) faces a lonely start to the new year - although he has got a shoulder to cry on… "Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) is seriously falling for Mick," grins our insider. "She is fully prepared to play the long game, despite everyone at the Vic missing Linda." How long can Mick resist the naughty Ms Butcher's allure? By the time Linda makes her full-time return later in 2022, maybe Janine will be the next Mrs Carter?!
Honey and Suki's showdown
Sozzled Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal) trying to plant a shock kiss on horrified Honey Mitchell (Emma Barton) was one of the most unexpected moments of 2021, and continues to haunt the menacing matriarch in the new year when her ex-employee confronts her. "Suki has to face her fears when she is confronted by Honey about her true feelings," teases her soap spy. "With her guard firmly up, she clashes with daughter Ash Panesar (Gurlaine Kaur Garcha) and takes things a step too far." We'd also advise you to keep an eye on Suki and Eve Unwin (Heather Peace) - anyone else detect a dangerous frisson between the enemies that could develop into forbidden passion?
Trauma for Ballum
Callum and Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) got their happy ending in 2021 as they tied the knot and settled into married life. Get ready for all that to change in the coming year as an unexpected incident throws the couple into a dark new chapter… "Ben finds out the trauma of his past is never far away, creating fresh trials for his relationship. Callum enlists extra help when he sees his husband is struggling, but will he be able to do enough?"
Ruby back with a bombshell?
It all came crashing down for Ruby Allen (Louisa Lytton) in 2021 when her plot to frame Stacey was uncovered and she was framed by vengeful Jean for drug dealing, then rejected by hubby Martin for her deceit. As she started her prison sentence Ruby discovered she was pregnant for real, having lied to her other half she was expecting to stop him leaving her, so when Lytton returns from maternity leave at some point in 2022 will she have a baby Fowler in tow? And will she want to make amends with Martin, Stacey and Jean or take revenge on them all?!