5 most depressing EastEnders festive episodes
If you’re planning a Christmas filled with festive fun, stay the hell away from Albert Square.
Not known for its happy endings any time of the year, EastEnders is particularly merciless over the winter holidays as a special treat for misery-loving soap fans. Murders, affair discoveries and horrific accidents are all commonplace, and that’s being optimistic.
This Christmas, we’ve been promised the climax to the story of the murderous pre-teen Bobby Beale, who murdered sister Lucy last Easter and this year attacked both Phil and Cindy. For New Year’s Eve, we’re set to see evil rapist Dean meet a murky end at the bottom of a lake, with brother Mick caught in the crossfire.
Here’s a countdown of our favourite brutally depressing EastEnders festive episodes that had us swap our delicious Christmas leftover sandwiches for the tissues.
5. Den serves Angie divorce papers for Christmas (1986)
What would an EastEnders Christmas list be without a tribute to Den and Angie’s thrilling marriage breakdown, which – in its intense misery – began a trend of depressing viewers at Christmas that is still prevalent today. After discovering alcoholic wife Angie had been lying to him about having a terminal illness, Den had his revenge by serving her divorce papers on Christmas day in possibly the most iconic EastEnders scene of all time.
4. Little Mo receives a face full of gravy (2001)
The Little Mo and Trevor domestic abuse storyline is one that still collects plaudits today, for both excellent writing and acting (and, consequently, extremely painful viewing). One horrifying incident took place on Christmas day itself, when Little Mo arrived home late for Trevor’s planned Christmas dinner. After terrifying his wife, Trevor pushed her face first into her turkey and gravy.
3. Pauline dies alone in the square after suffering a blow to the head (2006)
After a year of questionable EastEnders writing which saw her lie about a terminal illness to try to separate son Martin and his wife Sonia, Fowler matriarch Pauline died alone in the square on Christmas day after her lies were discovered. Sonia was later arrested for Pauline’s murder, believed to be caused by a fearsome smack in the face, though it was later proven to be the dirty work of Pauline’s husband Joe.
2. Ronnie Mitchell swaps dead son for Kat’s baby son (2010)
In an extremely controversial storyline, the mentally ill Ronnie Mitchell discovered her newborn son was dead in his crib the day before New Year’s Eve. Desperate for help, she went to the Queen Vic and, temporarily driven insane from grief, swapped the body of her newborn baby son for that of Kat Moon’s living newborn. The harrowing scenes featured both mothers’ discoveries of a dead baby, in television that was very difficult for many to stomach.
1. Jamie dies in Sonia’s arms (2002)
One of the most memorable EastEnders deaths ever, teenage hearthrob Jamie Mitchell died in the arms of loving girlfriend Sonia Jackson on Christmas day after being hit by a car driven by Martin Fowler. In a heartbreaking sequence, which is juxtaposed with the marriage of Little Mo to Jamie’s abusive uncle Billy, Jamie and Sonia shared a last exchange before he dies in her arms. Even hardman Phil succumbed to tears as the Mitchell family watched, devastated by their loss. Nowadays of course, re-watching Jamie’s final scenes is slightly sullied by knowing that Sonia went on to marry Martin and have a long and moderately successful marriage.
Here’s hoping for another festive fiasco this Christmas. EastEnders airs Mondays/Fridays at 8pm and Tuesdays/Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One.