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EastEnders

EastEnders 2024 preview: Dramatic returns, devastating truths and sad exits

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George Knight, Lauren Branning, Zack Hudson, Linda Carter and Whitney Dean in front of the Queen Vic with fireworks in the background in EastEnders
2024 kicks off with a bang – here’s your preview (Picture: BBC / Getty)

2023 has been one of EastEnders’ biggest years yet, but 2024 already looks set to rival that as it kicks off with a bang!

Following the dramatic Christmas Day episode where we finally found out that it was Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) who was killed after a very long ten month build up, The Six will continue to band together in the new year as they deal with the fallout of events.

Elsewhere, Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) and cousin Penny Branning (Kitty Castledine) are set to make a dramatic return to Albert Square and no doubt set the cat among the pigeons.

When Sam Mitchell (Kim Medcalf) smells a rat, she is quick to turn detective, while the Square’s teens cause chaos over the New Year, and George Knight (Colin Salmon) learns the shocking truth about his past.

Elsewhere, Eve Unwin (Heather Peace) and Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal) make the big step of moving in together, while the Mitchells get some heartbreaking news.

So, without further ado, here is what’s in store for 2024.

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Penny and Lauren’s dramatic return

While spending time together in Paris, Lauren and Penny’s evening takes a dramatic turn, and they both decide that it is time to return to Walford.

However, it is only Penny that arrives in Albert Square with Louie, and she soon faces questioning from Lauren’s horrified loved ones. As she struggles to cope in the wake of recent events, Penny ends up making a difficult decision.

Several days later, Lauren also returns, desperate to be reunited with her son.

Penny and Lauren at a party in France in EastEnders
Penny and Lauren make the decision to come home (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

It is then she runs into Peter Beale (Thomas Law) and, despite leaving things on bad terms last summer, he manages to convince her to stick around for a little while longer.

Following their chat, Lauren goes to see Penny and check that she is okay.

It isn’t long before a torn Lauren wonders if she’s best off moving elsewhere, but keen Bobby Beale (Clay Milner Russell) is determined to plead Peter’s case. Ever the peacemaker, Bobby manages to convince Lauren to stay for a little while longer after giving her pause for thought.

Meanwhile, Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) is horrified to see that Lauren is back, and terrified that she will find out the truth about Annie’s paternity. Though Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) promises not to tell, Sonia soon breaks the news to Lauren herself, and it isn’t long before she storms into the Vic to confront Linda.

Lauren and Sonia in the doorway of the Queen Vic in EastEnders
Lauren’s return is as dramatic as you would expect (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Following her discovery, Lauren tells Peter that she will be sticking around and will let him see Louie, Penny and Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) overhear, leaving Penny hoping that Lauren will thaw towards her too.

But when Lauren remains frosty, Sonia takes matters into her own hands…

Needing somewhere to live following their sudden move back to the Square, Lauren and Penny begin flat hunting, but soon Peter has thrown a spanner in the works.

Desperate to convince him that she’s a good person, Penny launches a charm offensive, but will it work?

George’s nightmare

George Knight sitting on sofa looking worried in EastEnders
George discovers a shocking secret from his past (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

George is set to be caught off guard in the new year when former flame Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins) asks him if he’s happy with his life choices, leaving Elaine Peacock (Harriet Thorpe) shocked.

However, as George tries to explain himself, he is rocked by two unexpected visitors in the form of his parents, Eddie and Gloria.

George’s reaction to their sudden arrival sets alarm bells ringing for Elaine, but he refuses to open up about what is bothering him. Cindy is quick to put Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) in the picture, informing him that George was adopted.

Meanwhile, Gloria is over the moon to be reunited with her grandchildren Anna (Molly Rainford) and Gina (Francesca Henry), but things are tense between Eddie and eldest granddaughter Gina.

Chistopher Fairbank, Elizabeth Counsell stand with Colin Salmon in the Queen Vic of EastEnders
George’s parents are set to arrive in Albert Square (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

After Gloria later reveals a shocking truth to George, Elaine is left heartbroken to see him leaving Cindy’s house, having asked her to meet him the following day…

Alone together in a café, George opens up to Cindy about his adoption, and soon the pair’s attempt at finding more information leads them to a shocking discovery…

Later, an emotional George returns home to Elaine, who comforts him as he breaks down in her arms, revealing all.

Determined to get to the bottom of things once and for all, George invites Eddie and Gloria round for dinner, and though Elaine makes it very clear that Cindy should stay away, Gloria inadvertently invites her.

To start with, things are going well, until Eddie’s rude comments to Gina rile Cindy, and soon a huge row breaks out.

Cindy comforts Gina in EastEnders
Eddie’s comments to Gina rile Cindy up (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Following the outburst, Gloria and George have a heart to heart, where she delivers some much needed answers about his heritage.

EastEnders is set to tackle a new, groundbreaking storyline surrounding child farming, as George finally learns the truth about his upbringing.

Speaking on the storyline, Executive Producer Chris Clenshaw said: ‘EastEnders has a rich history of telling challenging yet truthful stories which reflect past and present events.

‘George Knight’s storyline will force him to question the identity his parents gave him from childhood as he discovers the true means by which he was adopted.

‘It was imperative that we worked with experts and people with lived experience of farming to ensure the storyline is handled as sensitively and as accurately as possible.’

Zack and Whitney’s baby struggle

Whitney and Zack talk to foster child Ashton in EastEnders as he shows them a drawing
Zack and Whitney have to say goodbye to Ashton (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Zack Hudson (James Farrar) and Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) made the decision to start fostering after losing daughter Peach.

The couple were both desperate for a family, but with Whitney terrified of carrying and losing another child, they decided to go down the fostering route.

Unfortunately for them, social services manage to find a permanent home for their first foster child, Ashton, and they are devastated to have to say goodbye.

Both Zack and Whitney struggle with this development, with Zack heading to Peggy’s to drown his sorrows with Martin Fowler (James Bye).

Drunk Martin leans his head on Zack's shoulder in EastEnders
Zack drowns his sorrows with Martin (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

While Sonia attempts to cheer Whitney up at their New Years Eve bash, it proves fruitless as Whitney’s mind is clearly elsewhere.

Back at home, Whitney ends up taking a pregnancy test and discovers that she is pregnant again.

She is quick to break the news to a worse for wear Zack, who is left in utter shock. As they discuss the news, they are interrupted by the arrival of the social worker who has come to collect Ashton.

The following day, Whitney shows Sonia a photo of Ashton settled in with his new foster family, as she struggles to come to terms with his premature departure.

Yolande and Whitney by Peach's tree in EastEnders
Yolande offers support (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Whitney soon decides to visit Peach’s tree, where she bumps into Yolande Trueman (Angela Winter). As Yolanda shares her own experiences with fostering, Whitney ends up breaking down and revealing her pregnancy.

Following a heart-to-heart with Yolande, Whitney finally decides what she is going to do…

Whitney’s exit

We know that at some point in 2024 Whitney is set to leave the Square, with Shona McGarty’s exit having already been announced.

However, it is as yet unclear exactly how that story will play out, though executive producer Chris Clenshaw told Metro.co.uk that there was plenty more to come for the character.

‘I can’t give too many details around her storyline, but there’s a lot left to come for Whitney,’ he told us.

‘I can confirm that she will be leaving next year, into 2024. Her and Zack have a big story, and they kind of get a little Christmas/New Year miracle.’

Sonia and Reiss’ IVF journey continues

Sonia looks at a pregnancy test as Whitney looks on
Sonia takes a pregnancy test – but what will the result be? (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Sonia is unable to contain her excitement in upcoming scenes as she reveals to Whitney that she suspects she may be pregnant.

Sonia and Reiss Colwell (Jonny Freeman) began IVF treatment last summer, after Reiss revealed that he was unable to naturally conceive.

The couple recently received the news that the clinic had retrieved three viable embryos, and it seems as though the good news just keeps coming.

As Sonia and Whitney head to No.25 to take the test, will it be the result Sonia is hoping for?

The Walford teens give a new meaning to dry January

The Walford teens are set to host their own New Year’s Eve party, but things don’t quite go to plan.

Obviously, it’s not a teen house party without booze, and soon one of them decides to steal a crate of beer from the Minute Mart.

However, they soon realise they’ve made a big mistake when Yolande and Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) come to check on them, and they discover that the beer is alcohol free.

They are completely mortified, but silently relieved when Yolande promises to keep their secret if they do her a favour…

Denzel watches an interaction between Yolande and Pastor Clayton in EastEnders
Denzel grows suspicious of Yolande and Pastor Clayton (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Following their failed New Years Eve party, the teens uphold their end of the bargain to deliver church leaflets for Yolande, but Denzel Danes (Jaden Ladega) is alarmed when a rumour starts that there is something going on between her and Pastor Clayton…

Wary of what he’s heard, Denzel reluctantly agrees to help at Pastor Clayton’s soup kitchen, but things soon go horribly wrong as he misconstrues a situation between the Pastor and Yolande.

Wanting to put a stop to things, Denzel ends up pouring hot curry all over him.

How will he and Yolande react?

Training for the London Marathon begins

Having discovered that the late Lola Pearce has signed up Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick), Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) and Honey Mitchell (Emma Barton) to the London Marathon, Gina Knight tries to persuade Peter Beale to help Jay with his training.

The next day, their training begins, but how will it go?

Alfie is let down

Alfie looking disappointed at the Queen Vic bar in EastEnders
Alfie comes looking for Linda (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, and has had his friends and family rally around him.

However, upcoming scenes will see him left disappointed when Linda lets him down after his first round of treatment by bailing out on their movie night.

Will someone else step up in his hour of need?

The Mitchells say goodbye

Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) is set to learn that Aunt Sal has sadly passed away, and he is hit hard by the news.

With family on his mind, he decides to go and speak to Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) about Albie, but is stopped in his tracks by Zack.

Phil answers the phone while in the Vic with Kat, Honey, Billy, Jay and Sam in EastEnders
Phil learns that Aunt Sal is dead (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Aunt Sal’s funeral is set to take place in coming weeks, and will see the introduction of Billy Mitchell’s (Perry Fenwick) estranged dad, Stevie, played by Hollywood legend Alan Ford.

Speaking about his soap gig, Alan said: ‘I feel highly delighted to be playing a character close to my own age in this extremely popular television drama series.’

Sam meddles

Sam Mitchell talking to Zack Hudson in the bar in EastEnders
Sam plays hard ball (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Sam is set to play hard ball over Albie’s paternity in upcoming scenes as she threatens Zack that the Mitchells will drag his family through the courts to get access to Sharon’s son, though Zack soon warns her off when he realises that she is trying to win respect from brother Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden).

However, things get even more juicy for Sam when she later discovers that Kat already knew the truth.

Smelling a rat, Sam decides to play detective, but what all she find?

The aftermath of the Christmas murder brings trouble for The Six

Kathy and Suki speak to the builders outside the café in EastEnders
Suki manages to persuade the builders to down tools (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

The Six have been struggling to keep it together in the wake of Keanu’s murder, and things are set to get even worse in upcoming scenes when builders arrive to start working on the restoration of the café.

While Suki attempts to stall them, Linda begins to publicly unravel, leaving Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) to pick up the pieces.

Stacey warns Linda that all of their futures rely on Linda staying sober and keeping it together.

Having managed to persuade the builders to down tools, Suki warns the rest of The Six that they must move the body before it is too late.

However, she soon receives a call that throws everything into disarray.

Linda drunk in the cellar with Kathy and Denise in EastEnders
Kathy is forced to diffuse a row (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

As Denise Fox (Diane Parish) tries to ditch Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) and Penny to meet with The Six, Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) is forced to deal with a drunk Linda at The Albert.

Later, in the Vic barrel store, Kathy just about manages to stop a row ensuing over Linda’s sobriety, and the women agree to meet that night at the cafe, where they will put their plan into action…

The following day, Denise calls the women back to the barrel store and shares a new found fear, but gets cold comfort from the other women. Back at home, Jack and Chelsea (Zaraah Abrahams) fail to get her to open up when they comment on her strange behaviour.

Are The Six set to be caught out?

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