EastEnders is shaping up to deliver one unmissable Christmas.
The BBC One soap usually delivers drama and devastation aplenty over the festive season, and this year will be no different.
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) struggles in the wake of discovering that he was abused by Katy Lewis (Simone Lahbib) when he was a child, and he crumbles under the enormity of the situation.
Meanwhile, Denise Fox (Diane Parish) is shocked when serial killer Lucas Johnson (Don Gilet) returns to Walford, and he brings with him their daughter Chelsea (Zaraah Abrahams).
It’s a holiday season that the residents of Albert Square will well and truly never forget, and Executive Producer Jon Sen has revealed all the details of what one can expect.
Christmas on the Square is always a huge for the show – what can viewers expect?
With suspicions circling over several residents and Ian going out of his mind worrying about who’s out to get him – there’s the promise of discovering who the real culprit is behind Ian’s attack.
Lucas’ return is sure to cause some havoc – are you looking forward viewers seeing him back and have you been planning it for a while?
Yes! I’ve loved the character of Lucas ever since he joined the show, he’s a wonderful character played by a wonderful actor and I was really excited by the opportunity to bring him back to the Square and find out what trouble he can bring to Denise’s life in the wake of her reuniting with Raymond.
Zaraah is joining the cast as Chelsea too – what will she bring to the role?
I’ve worked with Zaraah before on Waterloo Road so I was aware of her immense talent. She brings with her a great authority and a presence and charisma.
She’s got many of Chelsea’s qualities that we saw ten years ago – she’s a strong, independent, vibrant woman and at the same time Zaraah embodies exactly the character that Chelsea would have grown into 10 years later.
Chelsea being with Lucas is bound to cause some issues for the rest of the family…
So Denise has kept in touch with Chelsea over the years, the fact that Chelsea has kept contact with Lucas causes a huge sense of betrayal and fractures the family because of everything that Lucas did when he was last on the Square.
Denise really struggles with reconciling the daughter she knows with the ex-husband that treated her so terribly.
Looking ahead to New Year – The Carter’s are in for a tough time, what can you tell us?
We’ve obviously seen Mick’s battle since Frankie’s arrival on the Square and we’ve seen him grapple with the reawakened memories of his childhood abuse as he struggles to come to terms with that. Over New Year we find him facing his demons properly for the first time in his life.
How important was it to delve more into Mick’s childhood?
We’ve known Mick Carter for many years and when we decided that there was something in his past that had led to his panic attacks and anxiety, we wanted to explore what that could be.
Thinking back to his childhood in care and Mick being abandoned by Shirley and left to fend for himself and looked at what else might have happened during that time. It gave us a chance to look at the logic of why he might have repressed those childhood memories and so in visiting them, Mick is able to lift the lid on a whole wealth of pain and suffering that happened when he was 12.
We’ve had Simone join the cast as Mick’s abuser Katy – audiences are starting to see just how much control she has over Mick and how good she is at using it for her own benefit – does it get worse?
Simone is brilliant at playing Katy because you suddenly see in her eyes that there’s levers of control she’s able to exploit so excellently. One of the most gripping things about it is depicting how an abuser is able to manipulate their victim as an adult, in similar ways to when they were groomed as a child.
So when Mick really starts to find his footing with the memories from the past– Katy will of course do anything in her power to stop the truth from ever coming out.
Working with Samaritans on the New Year’s Eve episode sounds like it’ll be some compelling viewing, how did it all come about?
We knew that the abuse storyline would take Mick to some dark places and there’s a logical culmination to this storyline. Somebody who was unable to deal with his own suffering and wanting to put an end to the psychological pain of what happened to him, the memories become too much.
So we spent a lot of time talking to Samaritans about suicidal thoughts and depression, particularly with regards to people who have suffered abuse, just to really explore the finer details and the truth of what those feelings would be. It was a real privilege to work with Samaritans, we were honoured when they said they would have their charity name in the piece itself as that’s a real testament to how truthful and accurate we had been in telling the story.
So that was a great reassurance to know that a charity with such an immense authority are standing alongside us in this episode.
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