After an epic 2023 in Walford in which we wept for Lola, gasped at Cindy's shock resurrection and spent months speculating who was going to die on Christmas Day, and who would be responsible, it's shaping up to be a blockbuster 2024 for EastEnders.
The soap is back on top and the drama is only just beginning. What next for the Six (Linda, Sharon, Denise, Stacey, Suki and Kathy) following the killing of Keanu? Which old faces return to unearth shattering secrets? And who are we set to say goodbye to in the next 12 months?
Read on for RadioTimes.com's packed EastEnders plot preview.
Keanu dug up
Having shut down Rocky’s suspicions by getting him banged up for arson, the Six have bigger things to worry about as 2024 begins when building work starts on renovating the burnt-out café. Realising Keanu’s corpse will have to be moved before the builders find it, the women hatch a risky plan to dig up their victim and hide him somewhere else. Meeting at the café under cover of night, the group prepare to unearth Keanu, but moving him brings a whole new set of problems that threaten to expose their killer secret…
Denise cracks under pressure
Traumatised Denise proves to be the loose cannon of the Six as she struggles with the situation, much to the concern of the other five fraught females. Early in the new year, Dee’s erratic actions begin to alarm her family who are baffled by her bonkers behaviour. With the reality of shifting Keanu’s corpse too much to cope with, Denise goes into meltdown and feels the rest of the women are turning on her. Worried Jack and Chelsea can tell something is wrong and encourage her to open up – will Denise be the first to crack under pressure?
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Lauren learns Linda's secret
Lauren is back in Walford with a whole heap of unfinished business to attend to, including her on/off romance with Peter. She’s always had a hunch that her dad Max is the father of Linda’s daughter, Annie, and her theory is proved right when she finally has it confirmed thanks to loose-lipped Sonia who spills the tea to her niece. Challenging Linda over her lies, what will Lauren do with this information? If she tells Max, will he return to the Square demanding access to his child? And with relapsed Linda already a liability among the Six, this latest development drives her back to the bottle once again, which means it might only be a matter of time before she blabs about what really happened on Christmas Day…
What does Nish know?
The Six are on tenterhooks to see if Nish wakes up from his induced coma, and what he remembers about the festive fracas in the Vic that almost killed him. After Denise bashed him with the champers bottle, did he overhear the fatal confrontation with Keanu playing out in the hallway? Knowing he could hold all their fates in his hands, the women wait anxiously for news from the hospital, and they don’t have long as Suki receives a call next week that could change everything… Has Nish opened his eyes and revealed all? Or is he dead? And if so, will that make unstable Denise spiral further into despair? And what does the future hold for Suki and Eve now they’ve gone public?
Dean's dangerous agenda
Speculation among fans has led to a theory that Dean was still in the pub during the Christmas Day showdown, and witnessed the whole thing. We know he was stalking Linda upstairs in the flat, but we never actually saw him leave the premises. What if he was hiding somewhere throughout the altercation? It would certainly give him leverage over arch-enemy Linda to drop her vendetta against him. Is that the real reason he’s cosying up to Gina, to get closer to the Knights so he can exact revenge on L who he blames for ruining his life? Keep your eye on dastardly Dean in 2024…
Billy's long-lost dad arrives
Billy is set to be reunited with his long-lost father in 2024 after more than 25 years of estrangement. Stevie Mitchell comes back into his son’s life when the family gather for the funeral of their beloved Aunt Sal, and the reason for the bad blood between the men soon becomes clear as old wounds are reopened. “Viewers know very little about Billy’s complicated childhood and the events that led him to grow up in care,” says EastEnders executive producer Chris Clenshaw. “When Stevie arrives, it’s apparent that he is not welcome in the family fold.” Stevie will be played by veteran star Alan Ford, known for his roles in Guy Ritchie’s classic gangster films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.
Whitney's big exit
We’ll be saying farewell to Whitney in 2024 as Shona McGarty bows out after 16 years in the role. After the heartache of losing their little girl, Whit and boyfriend Zack had dreams of becoming a happy family with their first foster child, Ashton, only for the kid to make a premature departure when social services move him to another placement. The new year gets off to a dramatic start for Whitney as a shock twist sees her face an agonising decision that has huge repercussions for her future. What pushes Whitney to leave Zack, and Walford, behind?
George's tragic secret
Gentle giant George is forced to face a devastating secret from his past that blows his entire world apart. A surprise visit from his adoptive parents, Gloria (Elizabeth Counsell) and Eddie (Christopher Fairbank), rattles a sizeable skeleton in the family closet that explains why George has kept his distance from the clan - he was adopted via a process known as farming. As a result, George will make new discoveries about his heritage and will bring about clashes with his adoptive parents when Eddie's racism emerges. All of this will go to pushing George back into the arms of ex-wife, Cindy...
Lola's last wish
Losing Lola was a low point for Jay (and all of us!) in 2023, but as 2024 dawns the grieving widower resolves to honour his late wife’s legacy by carrying out her dying wish. Lexi played a video message on Christmas Day that was recorded by her mum shortly before her passing, in which Lola revealed to Jay she’d entered him and Honey to run the London Marathon in her name. The community rallies round Jay to help him train and fulfil Lo’s legacy. But will the strain be too much for daunted Jay, who numbed his pain with drugs in the aftermath of Lola’s death?
Freddie back - and banged up?
Bobby Brazier taking part in Strictly Come Dancing meant he had to be temporarily written out of EastEnders, but fear not, Freddie fans, as his character will return from visiting his mum off screen once the actor has completed the Strictly tour in February. When Fred left he’d just been released on bail for the attempted murder of Stacey’s stalker Theo, but the truth about the assault remains buried thanks to crooked copper Jack turning a blind eye. However, with Jack and Stacey at odds over their ill-fated fling, could Freddie be walking into a possible jail sentence when he comes home?
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- EastEnders must give tragic heroine Whitney the happy ever after she deserves
- EastEnders boss Chris Clenshaw previews Christmas 2023 and The Six aftermath
- EastEnders' Gillian Taylforth on Kathy and Rocky: "She can’t live with the constant lies"
- EastEnders' Diane Parish teases "heartbreak" in Christmas episode
- EastEnders' Lacey Turner on whether Stacey will kill again: "She will do whatever it takes to protect Eve"
- EastEnders' Balvinder Sopal: "People will be on the edge of their seats"
- EastEnders' Kellie Bright: "The body wasn't who I thought it would be"
EastEnders airs Monday to Friday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer this week.