EastEnders bosses are going all out this year with the storylines.
Not only will fans have to wave goodbye to Lola Pearce - aka Danielle Harold - who is battling a brain tumour, but there's going to be an explosive Christmas 2023 death.
So we've rounded up all the EastEnders residents who will be arriving in Walford and waving goodbye to Albert Square.
Who's returning to EastEnders this year?
Who's returning to EastEnders this year?
In news we're still confused about, it's been reported that Cindy Beale - who was famously killed off 25 years ago - will return to Walford with ex-husband Ian Beale. According to The Sun, the duo are back together and living in France.
A source told the publication, "Bosses wanted to deliver a backstory which explains where they’ve both been all these years. It’s not entirely clear how or when they got back together, or how they ended up in France — but they seem to be a couple again."
Cindy, played by Michelle Collins, died in prison off-screen in 1998. This wouldn't be the first time someone has returned from the dead - Dirty Den and Kathy Beale both surprised the nation when they came back to Albert Square after 'dying'.
Sharon Watts' former fiancé Duncan Boyd will be returning to Walford for the first time in over 30 years to officiate her son Albie's christening, but they're both unaware until they come face-to-face for the first time in three decades. Given that Sharon's just rekindled her romance with Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters), there's definitely going to be some ruffled feathers when Duncan and Sharon's romantic past comes to light.
Who's joining EastEnders this year?
Who's joining EastEnders this year
Linda Carter has been struggling to manage the pub since Mick disappeared and now she's joining forces with her mum Elaine Peacock, her boyfriend George Knight and his two daughters Gina and Anna (played by Strictly's Molly Rainford).
EastEnders' executive producer Chris Clenshaw has said, "George will take up residence in The Queen Vic when he joins his beloved Elaine, a powerhouse of a land-lady who knows just how to have fun.
"The couple will be joined by feisty, determined and demanding Gina, who is as sharp and cool as cut diamonds but with a temper that blazes like fire, whereas younger sister, Anna is fun, loveable, and big-hearted, but don’t underestimate her. George, Gina and Anna have been bound together for years and arriving in Walford is the fresh-start the Knights are looking for."
Allo! Allo! actress Vicki Michelle will play Jo Cotton, the estranged wife of Rocky Cotton and we're dying to see how his fiancée Kathy Beale reacts when she turns up in Walford.
Soap legend Patsy Kensit is joining EastEnders as Lola Pearce's long lost mum in her ongoing brain tumour storyline.
Jonny Freeman is joining EastEnders as Dot Branning's great-nephew Reiss. He attends Dot's funeral and there are signs of a spark between him and Sonia as they share a moment of grief.
A new Slater is in town folks, Freddie Slater will be played by Bobby Brazier, the son of Jade Goody and Jeff Brazier, in his first acting debut. Freddie was last seen in Walford in May 2006 when he and Little Mo left to start a new life away from Walford. A teenage Freddie is set to arrive on on the square on his own, with bosses describing him as someone who "has a heart of gold but can’t help getting himself into mischief."
Ravi Gulati is the son of the Panesar's family friend Ranveer Gulati, but he was first introduced as Phil Mitchell's prison inmate who he turned to for help when his life was in danger. During his time in prison, Ravi asked Phil for information about Kheerat Panesar, although his intentions are still unclear. However, with Ravi soon being released from prison and reuniting with his dad, we're sure all will be revealed very soon.
The Baker family is expanding as Mitch’s estranged brother and nephews make their way to Albert Square in the summer. Musician and actor Omar Lye-Fook, MBE will be playing Avery Baker, the charming older brother of Mitch and his sons, Felix and Finley, will be played by Matthew Morrison (Felix) and Ashley Byam (Finlay).
Tara Misu is the drag alter ego of Albert Square newcomer Finlay Baker (Tara Misu). Tara is the drag alter ego of Felix Baker (Matthew Morrison), the younger son of Mitch’s (Roger Griffiths) estranged brother Avery (Omar Lye-Fook). It was previously announced that Felix will cause a stir when he arrives in Walford alongside his older half-brother Finlay (Ashley Byam) and their dad Avery this summer.
Speaking about taking on the role of Tara Misu, Matthew Morrison said, “I am blessed to have the opportunity to step into the heels of the fierce Tara Misu as part of my role on EastEnders. It’s a privilege to represent the LGBTQIA+ community and to showcase the creative art of drag to both viewers at home and the residents of Walford.”
Who's leaving EastEnders this year?
<br>Who's leaving EastEnders this year?
In June 2022, is was reported that Danielle Harold, who plays Lola Pearce, will leave the show. Her character is apparently going to be killed off in a 'huge' storyline, leaving her no option to return to the show. Danielle has played Lola since 2011, leaving briefly in 2015 before returning in 2019.
Ricky only returned to Walford in 2022 but he's already left. After proposing to Sam Mitchell (and getting rejected), he left the UK with his niece Scarlett (Janine's daughter) and headed back to Germany.
While you're here, why not look back at the most shocking EastEnders Christmas Day episodes; from Kat and Alfie Moon finally getting their happily ever after to Dirty Den Watts serving Ange those divorce papers.
"Happy Christmas, Ange."
You could also take a look at the most dramatic Christmas storylines on Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks and believe us when we say the things that have happened over the years in soapland are intense...