What's your favourite Christmas soap storyline? From Dirty Den's divorce shock in EastEnders to Emmerdale's plane crash

THERE’S nothing like an explosive plane crash, a brutal death or a scandalous affair to get you feeling festive – at least in soapland.

And Britain’s most-loved TV series have delivered some epic Christmas and New Year moments over the years.

EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have saved some of their most memorable scandals to play out throughout the month of December – and, in some cases, into January.

And while many of them left us sobbing into our turkey dinners, others kept us entertained for days on end.

From Dirty Den serving Angie with divorce papers, to Emmerdale’s plane crash, there have been some nail-biting festive scenes dating back decades.

So which is your favourite? Let us know in our four soap polls below…


Dirty Den serves wife with divorce papers (1986):

In one of the most iconic episodes of the BBC One soap, Dirty Den shocked his wife Angie by gifting her divorce papers for Christmas. Charming.

Over 30million people tuned in to see Den reveal to his lying wife that he was aware she had been deceptive about her “illness” and false claims that she was dying.

It remains the single most watched episode of the Walford drama to this day.

Max and Stacey affair revealed (2007):

EastEnders went all Jeremy Kyle in 2007 when Stacey’s affair with her husband Bradley’s father, Max, was finally revealed.

And their cheating was outed in the most embarrassing way imaginable.

Max’s daughter Lauren had accidentally filmed her dad kissing Stacey – just moments before she walked down the aisle to marry Bradley.

The pair also discussed their ongoing love affair in the video, which Lauren had burnt to a DVD to gift to Stacey on Christmas Day. And sure enough, the DVD was eventually aired to the whole family.

The episode was watched by 14million viewers.

Archie Mitchell’s death (2009):

EastEnders loves a ‘who dunnit’ storyline, and one memorable one came when Archie Mitchell was sensationally killed in 2009 at Christmas.

The evil character, played by Larry Lamb, was smashed over the head with the Queen Vic bust by an unseen person.

The culprit was eventually revealed in February 2010 as Stacy, who was getting her revenge after she was raped by Archie in harrowing scenes.

It only went from bad to worse for her, however, as her husband Bradley then died as he tried to evade police, who suspected him of the murder.

Coronation Street

Hilda’s farewell (1987):

Possibly one of Corrie’s most-loved characters to this day, Hilda Ogden featured on the cobbles for 23 years, after bagging the role in 1964.

And the soap dedicated its Christmas episode to her departure in 1987 – doing away with any dramatics for a more heartfelt moment.

Hilda was given a touching farewell as locals joined her in a singalong of the track, Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye, before she left to start a new life.

The episode was watched by a staggering 27 million viewers.

Richard Hillman tries to kill Emily for first time (2002):

Serial killer Richard Hillman provided some of the most tense and terrifying scenes in Coronation Street history, with multiple murders airing on the soap.

But it was his plot to kill Emily Bishop at Christmas in 2002 that really left viewers reeling – as he stood over her with a pillow, prepared to smother her.

While he was interrupted that time, he then attempted it again a few weeks later by attacking her with a crowbar – before being caught out by Maxine Peacock.

What followed was one of the most brutal killings imaginable that January, as he bludgeoned Maxine to death. Luckily, Emily survived the attack.

Live tram crash (2010):

Corrie marked its 50th anniversary with an incredible live show at the start of December in 2010, in the run-up to Christmas, with a shocking tram crash at the beginning of the festive season.

It started after an explosion tore apart a bar, which in turn caused a tram crossing the viaduct to derail and plunge down onto the cobbles.

The viaduct collapsed on top of Peter’s stag do, with several major characters inside.

Two main characters were killed off, including Ashley Peacock and Molly Dobbs, while the other victims were an unnamed taxi driver and Charlotte Hoyle, who was actually murdered by Fiz’s husband, John Stape, on the night of the crash.


New Year plane crash (1993):

In possibly one of the most dramatic Christmas scenes on TV, Emmerdale made headlines when it aired an explosive plane crash in 1993.

Four of the ITV show’s most loved characters, Mark Hughes, Elizabeth Pollard, Archie Brooks and Leonard Kempinski, were killed off when a passenger jet broke up in the skies over the village, with flaming debris raining down.

The episode was watched by 18million people – and the storyline got its highest ever viewership to date.

It also firmly set the soap as a major contender against its rivals.

New Year storm and Tricia’s death (2003/4):

Few of soap’s heartbreaking deaths come close to that of Tricia Dingle, in the New Year episodes, between 2003 and 2004.

After she discovered her husband Marlon’s affair, she prepared to leave him – and the Dales.

However, after reading Marlon's love letter, she changed her mind and tried to return to the Woolpack, as a storm raged around her.

But disaster struck when lightning struck a nearby tree and the pub, which caused a sudden collapse and led to Tricia being crushed.

Rather than dying instantly, however, she was taken to hospital – where Marlon was forced to turn off her life support when doctors revealed she was brain dead.

Tom King dies (2006):

He had a fair few enemies, so when Tom King was killed in the Christmas episode in 2006, there were several suspects.

Shortly after getting hitched, Tom was thrown through a window and fell to his death at Home Farm – all while a tiny Belle Dingle sang We’re Walking in the Air.

It turned out years later that it was his son Carl who killed him.


Dawn Cunningham’s death (1997):

A particularly heartbreaking Christmas storyline on Hollyoaks came in 1997.

Dawn Cunningham passed away following a battle with leukemia, much to fans' sadness.

The episode saw Jambo Bolton ask her to marry him in moving scenes.

They hired a boat to celebrate, but she tragically died in his arms – the same day her niece Holly was born.

Becca sleeps with Justin (2005):

In one of the most disturbing Hollyoaks storylines to hit our screens, teacher Becca began a shock affair with her student, Justin, 17, after they slept together on Christmas Day in 2005.

It began with them growing suspiciously close, before she confessed her feelings on Christmas Eve after growing jealous of another girl Justin had spent time with.

While Becca immediately pushed Justin away after their night of passion, they started things up again around Valentine’s Day – leading to her falling pregnant, and not knowing who the father was.

The shamed teacher was eventually sacked, taken to court and jailed.

Clare's murder plot (2006):

When it comes to a Christmas shock, Hollyoaks more than delivered in 2006. Viewers got a dark Christmas treat when Max discovered that his supervillain wife Clare was trying to poison him to death.

After Clare realised she had been busted, she hatched a cold plan which involved throwing Max’s son Tom’s jacket in an icy lake and making her husband jump in to save the boy.

Luckily, Max survived, and saw Clare’s true colours for the first time.

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