The festive season is upon us, so the UK soaps are dusting off their biggest, most shocking storylines to keep us all entertained throughout Christmas.
Here’s everything you have to look forward to in soap land this Chrimbo.
Soaps exist in a very moral universe and those who transgress are always punished. So Gary Windass will discover for himself when the police haul him in for questioning over the disappearance of Rick Neelan. With his Tommy Shelby haircut and questionable moral code, Gary has morphed into the Street’s biggest bad boy, but wife Maria will still be left horrified when her other half is dragged off to the cop shop.
The trouble is, investigating officers don’t have enough evidence to charge him, but this doesn’t stop Maria from turfing Gary out once he’s back on the Street. After spending a cold night in the furniture shop, an already fraught situation takes a dire turn when Rick’s daughter Kelly then turns up asking for Gary’s help in finding her dad. Little does she realise that he’s been residing recently six foot under in local woodland.
David is hoping for a better Christmas than the one he had last year (well, it can’t get much worse than your wife getting shot), but Shona’s personality transplant is still causing big problems. One radical option would be to shoot her again, just to see if it ends up bringing her old personality back. But that doesn’t seem to be on the agenda, hence the pair heading for the brink of divorce by the time the 25th rolls around. But wait! After little Lily gets a jewellery bead stuck up her nose, the Platt clan make a mercy dash to A&E where Shona proves her worth calming her down.
It’s a moment of high drama that makes David realise just how important Shona is to him and the pair end up reconciling in Victoria Garden of all places, a spot of local greenery usually reserved for characters wanting to brood and cry their eyes out. From there, they head back to No 8 where, with the help of Max and Lily, the family stages a re-enactment of David and Shona’s wedding day. Let’s just hope that when sentimentality threatens to overwhelm events, David undercuts the schmaltz with his patented brand of cynicism.
David’s brother Nick also gets a share of the action when adorable son Sam (who seems to have the GCSE science syllabus where his brain ought to be) comes to stay. And there’s a rather obvious nativity parallel in the form of social services asking Imran and Toyah if they can foster a baby. The two of them are happy though out of their depth, hence the pep talk from mother-of-four Gemma. But spare a thought for Toyah’s sister Leanne, who can’t handle either Nick’s son or Toyah’s new arrival. Let’s hope someone recognises the depth of her grief for son Oliver.
Kathy wants her whole family together on Christmas Day, but quite frankly, we stand a better chance of seeing the Gallagher brothers reform Oasis. For starters, Ian is currently more likely to be found cowering under the meal table than sitting around it. And after a loud bang in the Queen Vic leaves him petrified, he becomes convinced that someone still wants him dead.
The police, though, believe that they’ve found the person responsible for the recent attack on him and take a terrified Tina down to the station. Which probably means that Tina is entirely innocent and another resident of the Square is as guilty as sin.
Elsewhere, Karen is feeling depressed at the prospect of facing the festive season without Chantelle (she obviously didn’t catch any of this year’s I’m a Celeb to see that she’s alive and well). Oh, and there’s one of those classic “can Christmas be saved?” storylines when Honey’s stress levels skyrocket in the run-up to a big community event as the fridge breaks down. Desperate to impress, Jay saves the day with a team of caterers who arrive in the nick of the time. And as he and Honey celebrate their success, they up kissing – only for Billy to walk in just at the moment when lips are locking.
There are passions also rising for Stacey, who takes a chance and snogs Martin. Max, meanwhile, is determined to spend a new life with Linda, who still fails to see that the priapic Mr Branning should be dealt with the way a vet deals with a randy dog. At least she’s taking the trouble of trying to get through to Mick, even going to the extent of taunting him with a bottle of whiskey in her hand. She’s desperate for him to fight for her, but the former publican’s brow is set to get even more etched with frown lines when Tina presents him with an old photograph of the Carter kids at the care home with Katy.
And last, but by no means least, we get the return of preacher-turned-murderous-maniac Lucas, who’s back with daughter Chelsea in tow. Is he resurfacing to rake up the past? (Rake! Geddit?) A horrified Denise is quick to tell Chelsea that Lucas is extremely dangerous (as in, “lock you up for weeks in a basement” dangerous). But will she listen? And can Patrick be stopped from taking on this homicidal returnee?
So now we know why the writers were so determined to wreck Chas and Paddy’s relationship earlier this year. It was so their love for each other could be reaffirmed at Christmas, of course! What you’ll see is Marlon and Paddy planning a secret wedding for Chas on Christmas Day – but these being soap nuptials, nothing is destined to go to plan.
First, the bungling duo realise that they haven’t sent out any invites, then the marquee company calls to cancel the reservation. But the biggest spoke in the wheel comes in the form of an increasingly self-destructive Charity, who after realising that she hasn’t been invited to the ceremony, is tempted to spoil Paddy and Marlon’s hard work. Will anyone get to say “I do” on the big day?
Watch: Emmerdale’s Christmas Day wedding shocks
Now, speaking of Charity, she’s also involved in a plotline involving Mack, who has quickly established himself as the Scottish equivalent of that light-fingered Fast Show character who continually says “I’ll nick it”. He and Charity have joined forces to steal goods and then stash the merchandise at the Barn, but you can expect Mack to almost be caught in the act by Moira. Cue some quick thinking that he hopes will placate his estranged sis.
There’s also a big revelation as regards the mystery woman who’s having an affair with Al Chapman, the bland businessman who’s outdone in the charisma stakes by his own briefcase. We’ve seen him making furtive phone calls for weeks, but on the 25th, Andrea, Dawn and Belle will all receive mystery texts that’ll lead us to think that each of them could be the latest notch on Al’s bedpost. All will then be revealed...
Paul’s gambling addiction plotline will also reach something of a climax as he once again lashes out at Vinny, who is then massively tempted to put Mandy in the picture. Aaron also learns of Liv’s recent seizure – just as she’s starting to take driving lessons. A self-loathing Laurel can’t stand Marlon being nice to her. And after Kim tells Jamie that she’s made the family look like a laughing stock, he surprises her with a suggestion that he and Andrea get back together. Andrea, though, might well have something to say about the matter.
Who’s in the body bag? It’s a question we’ve spent a year debating thanks to that tantalising flash-forward scene of 12 months ago. But who won’t be seeing any of 2021? An answer is, we’re promised, on the way.
One person who’s certainly due some good luck is Tom, whose life thus far has been blighted by disaster and tragedy. He’s currently preparing for a midnight wedding on New Year’s Eve, as well as celebrations for his 21st birthday. So what can possibly go wrong? We’re predicting pretty much everything. Come on! It’s Tom!
Another long-standing resident who’s experienced mixed fortunes down the decades is Tony, who’s now set to spend this supposedly happy time wondering where his life went so badly wrong. The quick reply to that one: Edward. He has a callous plan to ensure that Tony never sees his family again and, on the 23rd, will be seen breaking the news that Diane is dead.
The small matter of blackmail continues to preoccupy the McQueens. Silas, meanwhile, is adding a seasonal twist to his scheming as he loiters outside the pub in a Santa suit, determined to lure his great-grandson Bobby back to the village and kidnap him. There’s no denying his flair for the melodramatic.
Read more: Denise Welch is joining the Hollyoaks cast
Finally, Celeste frets that Felix won’t stop until justice is served on Toby. Brody is stuck in the middle as the tug of love between Sienna, Liberty and Faith ramps up. And when drug addict Ollie asks Cindy for money to buy gifts, she refuses – all of which leads to him looking elsewhere for a hand-out. But will he decide to spend the cash he secures on presents or his next stash?
Watch: Ruby drops a bombshell on Martin in EastEnders