I had the enormous privilege of attending a top secret screening of the EastEnders Christmas Day special (well, most of it), and I can happily announce that we're all in for a treat. So far, so good: it looks like they've nailed the landing.


I'll start by saying this, before you all start sending me messages asking: I don't know who is killed and who is the killer.

We saw approximately 45 minutes of the highly anticipated episode, and it was 45 minutes of drama, comedy, twists and shocks - that's all before the flash-forward scene.

Without spoiling anything - because trust me, this isn't an episode you want to have spoiled - the drama very much centres around The Six, made up of Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal), Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), Denise Fox (Diane Parish), Kathy Cotton (Gillian Taylforth) and Linda Carter (Kellie Bright).

Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts in her bridal gown with bouquet opposite Danny Walters in a suit as Keanu Taylor at the altar for EastEnders.
Letitia and Danny in EastEnders. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

It's the day of Sharon's wedding, and as she plans to wed Keanu (Danny Walters), it genuinely does seem like nothing can go wrong, as they're both in pre-marital bliss.

At the church, all eyes are on the fabulously glamorous Sharon, who's putting her guilt over Albie's paternity behind her to marry the man she truly does love - but Keanu's hiding his own secret, too, over his staged kidnapping of his son.

Viewers are in for a doof-doof-worthy treat as Phil (Steve McFadden) arrives - but what does he have to say?

Any episode which has knockout performances from some of Albert Square's icons are always great ones, but the incredible thing about the Christmas Day ep is that this is only one storyline strand.

There's still way more to this episode than just Sharon and Keanu's wedding (which is already simply excellent).

Elsewhere in Walford, Suki is planning to leave Walford, but she gets a surprising visitor, only to then have a worrying call from Vinny.

The scenes that follow are fantastic from Sopal and all involved in the gripping storyline, which again has several doof-doof moments itself.

While all eyes are undoubtedly on the comings and goings of the Queen Vic, there are other subplots around The Six, with the strongest featuring 2023 returnee Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins).

It's obvious to everyone, including their new partners, that there's still very much a connection between Cindy and her ex, George Knight (Colin Salmon), and that's explored during a tense Christmas Day dinner which combines the Knights and the Beales through gritted teeth.

One-liners and looks that could kill are very much the plat du jour at that meal, and it's simply divine.

There's also a welcome message from dearly departed Lola (Danielle Harold), who has a surprise for Jay (Jamie Borthwick), harking back to one of the most powerful storylines of the year: Loving and Losing Lola.

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While the ending is still a mystery to me, the 45 minutes that I saw were among the best I've ever seen in soaps. You'll laugh, cry and positively jump off the sofa.

It's an exemplary episode which sets the blueprint for how it's done. It's a masterclass from Chris Clenshaw, who has just been excellent this year, and has given this beloved soap its heart back - and given viewers a new love of the genre.

I can't wait to watch the full episode with everyone else on Christmas Day, a rare privilege for a journalist these days.

Really, it's just like it used to be, where millions would sit around their TV at Christmas and tune into the best soap outings of the year.

But forget Den and Angie, there's going to be a new competitor for the best ever EastEnders episode - and even the best ever soap episode.

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EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer.

Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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