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Christmas soap spoilers for 2017

PUBLISHED: 15:04 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:04 24 November 2017

Ian and Kathy get into the party spirit before Christmas. Picture: KIERON MCCARRON

Ian and Kathy get into the party spirit before Christmas. Picture: KIERON MCCARRON

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SPOILER ALERT: Christmas 2017 soap spoilers for EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks

We’ve been lulled into a sense of security by a Christmas Day visit to Walford last year that, for once, didn’t involve death, divorce or disaster.

The most distressing thing that happened in the festive episode that included a power cut that invoked the Blitz spirit, the rescue of Dot from a lonely dinner for one and a good old sing-song round the Old Joanna with Kathy leading a ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ knees-up was the return of Michelle Fowler Mk II.

Onward to New Year and we were in high spirits: Phil had a new liver, Lee had been saved by a guardian angel dressed as a parking attendant, Max was back with the promise of bad behaviour in the pipeline and the electricity was back on. Even better, there was a wedding to look forward to. Then, in the words of Fantine from Les Miserables, “it all went wrong”.

In Weatherfield, we discovered that Toyah was Peter Barlow’s mystery woman, there was a Barlow/Tilsley smackdown, newcomer Nathan entered twirling a pantomime villain moustache, Mary was given a son at Christmas and Aidan was attacked by Eva’s cat, while in Emmerdale, Zak was left alone after toying with two women at the same time, Moira was lost in grief, Charity cooked a stolen peacock, Ashley was still with us and there was actual, proper snow (take note, Coronation Street – never repeat *that* mistake you made in 2015).

But what about this year? Will there be phoenix on the menu at Home Farm? Will Eva’s cat finish off the job? Is Lee’s parking attendant guardian angel on speed dial in Walford? Is this the best picture of Kathy Beale in the history of the world? (Yes) Here are eight of the best soap storylines we can look forward to in the festive season (and if you hadn’t already guessed: SPOILER ALERT)

1) EastEnders: Another sister disaster? Both Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald have announced that they are to leave their roles as Lauren and Abi Branning, and EastEnders has confirmed that the Brannings will be at the centre of proceedings at Christmas and the good news is that brilliant scriptwriter Simon Ashdown has been brought in to see off the girls. New beginnings, or more business for Billy Mitchell?

2) Coronation Street: Carla is back: The wonderful Alison King will be making a return to the cobbles after almost two years. She was last in Weatherfield at her disastrous wedding to Nick Tilsley which saw him have a change of heart after the couple exchanged vows (to be fair, he’d just found out she’d cheated on him with her arch enemy Tracy’s lover Robert Preston). Carla returns for a family catch-up and scriptwriters have made it clear that no one will be able to guess what direction her character will take in 2018. The teases.

3) Hollyoaks: Courtney gives birth: Courtney Campbell is set to have the baby she’s always longed for and the only controversial moment will be who gets to accompany her in the labour ward. Will it be Tegan, Jesse or Nasty Nan Campbell? Either way, there’s a baby in the Chester manger this year. Hooray!

4) EastEnders: Kandice Taylor arrives in the square. From S Club Seven to E20, Hannah Spearritt is on her way to Walford to play Karen’s sister.

5) Coronation Street: Tragedy comes calling to the cobbles as Sarah discovers that her beloved partner Gary has been killed in an explosion while working in the Ukraine. Before he leaves, Gary has a secret meeting with Nicola in order to discuss the baby they’re expecting together. Will Nicola tell Sarah the truth about her pregnancy or will she decide that Sarah has had enough bad news and keep the baby’s father a secret?

6) Emmerdale: Hooray for Robron! Fans of Robert Sugden and Aaron Dingle’s love story will rejoice as there is an entire Robron episode planned for Christmas Day which focuses almost entirely on the star-crossed lovers’ storyline. In the words of Emmerdale boss Iain MacLeod: “It’s probably the weirdest episode we’ve ever done and given we’ve done some pretty weird episodes, that’s saying something. It’s really out there and it is the episode I have been most nervous about since I started just because of how crackers it is. But I think it’s really entertaining and dramatic and it’s got a surprise cameo in it.” He added that it would be like a cross between Groundhog Day and A Christmas Carol. Interest. Piqued. Well. And. Truly.

7) Coronation Street: Tracey Barlow and Steve McDonald are set to reunite. And the person who is least excited by this news? Amy.

8) EastEnders: Is Phil nasty or nice? Patrick Bergin has been filming scenes as Aidan Maguire, an old-school villain who has ‘istory with Phil Mitchell. Phil, Aidan and Mick Carter have explosive plans for Christmas and New Year. A Walford cracker, then.

James Blunt and Plan B have joined this year’s Newmarket Nights line-up.

Ed Sheeran has got engaged to his partner Cherry Seaborn, the Framlingham singer has confirmed on Instagram.

Cheeky chappie, rock ‘n’ roll pioneer and a man who has a lifetime of hilarious tales to tell, from Johnny Cash to The Beatles to The Singing Postman, Joe Brown is heading back to East Anglia on his biggest tour ever.

The Aldeburgh Festival has announced its line-up for this year. Arts editor Andrew Clarke takes a look at the programme, celebrates the breadth of work and nominates some highlights

Black Mirror is a razor-sharp examination of modern society which may well make you wish you could live without your technology and social media accounts (for an hour or two, at least). We discover the reasons why we should be watching.

Uncomfortable, disturbing, dark, twisted - and brilliant. The writers of Inside No 9 show no signs of running out of inspiration for this wonderful series of self-contained stories that are all linked by a number.

Movies that tell a good story and have engaging characters provide that all-important re-watch value necessary for a great film. Arts editor Andrew Clarke presents a series of idiosyncratic suggestions for movies which may entertain if you are in the mood for something different.

A Suffolk folk quartet will be performing a Scottish-themed charity concert celebrating the poet Robert Burns.

Comedy, talks, theatre and art suggestions to suit all tastes across the region over the next seven days

In Women’s Week, the New Wolsey Theatre is celebrating the fact that chief executive Sarah Holmes has made The Stage 100 list of most influential theatre figures. Arts editor Andrew Clarke asks what the award means to her and the company

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