EastEnders' biggest pre-Christmas storylines - all you need to know before the seasonal climax

Soap bosses are pulling out all the stops for a seasonal spectacular...

Every soap fan keenly awaits the Christmas Day schedule when TV drama reaches its apex.

And, when it comes to EastEnders , there's little doubt that fans will be disappointed, this year.

But, as much as the festive episode guarantees to impress, the preceding weeks are equally entertaining - and often match the wow-factor of December 25th.

But what can viewers expect from the long-running BBC soap?

First up, Max Branning could be set to kill his own daughters in a desperate bid to keep his sinister revenge scheme against Walford under wraps.

(Image: BBC)
Max Branning with daughters Abi and Lauren

We already know sisters Abi and Lauren have been axed, but the characters - played by Lorna Fitzgerald and Jacqueline Jossa - could also be bumped off.

It comes as Max's involvement in Steven Beale's shock death risks being exposed, forcing him to make a drastic choice: keep his children or keep his secret.

Given his track record, it could go either way, but he's the only scary character in Albert Square, this season. Hollywood star Patrick Bergin will also join the cast to play an ex-jailbird friend of Phil Mitchell.

The Irish actor, whose biggest movie hit was alongside Julia Roberts in 1991’s Sleeping with the Enemy, will start filming this autumn and make his debut tin the run-up to Christmas.

Patrick Bergin actor in Sleeping with the Enemy 1991

His character is Aidan Joseph Patrick Maguire, a charismatic old-school villain who is full of charm but always working on the wrong side of the law.

In the plot he and Mitchell formed a strong friendship when they lived together, at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, in 2005.

Since then they have fallen out of touch, but when Aidan turns up on Phil’s doorstep it’s not long before the old bond is reignited – along with Phil’s passion for dabbling in things that aren’t strictly legit.

Bergin, who also appeared in Dracula, Robin Hood and Red Rock, said he is a lifelong fan of the BBC soap. “I am delighted to be joining EastEnders as I have watched and admired it since the days of Dirty Den,” the 66-year-old said.

Meanwhile, Tamzin Outhwaite is making a long-awaited return as Mel Owen. She's being brought back as one of the first major moves by returning TV boss John Yorke, who was in charge when she quit the show in 2002.

Tamzin, who first played Mel for four years, will begin filming again in the next few weeks and appear on screen around Christmas time. But, before then,

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