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Last Updated: Friday, 22 December 2006, 11:53 GMT
A history of festive soap misery
Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard) and her son Martin (James Alexandrou)
Wendy Richard has played Pauline Fowler since 1985
Christmas and New Year will be a busy time in TV soaps this year - particularly on EastEnders' Albert Square with the demise of Pauline Fowler, played by Wendy Richard.

Explosive and spectacular storylines in the soaps are a traditional part of Christmas television as producers aim to win the ratings battle.

All the stops are pulled out to ensure the shows win maximum publicity.

But how many of these sensational storylines can you remember?


EastEnders' first Christmas Day special in 1986 showed Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) present his wife Angie (Anita Dobson) with divorce papers. It attracted 30.1m viewers to BBC One - a ratings record that has not been beaten.

Inside Soap magazine editor Steven Murphy thinks that storyline set a precedent.

Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) and Angie (Anita Dobson)
Dirty Den and his wife Angie had a very stormy relationship
"Every year they have try to better the Den and Angie thing as they were so famous," he said.

He thinks the pressure is on for scriptwriters to try to "out-do" the previous year's storylines, becoming more sensational each year.

The death of Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutcheon) outside the Queen Vic on New Year's Eve 1998 is well remembered by EastEnders fans.

She was hit by a car driven by Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) after a row with husband Grant, played by Ross Kemp.

Alfie Moon (Shane Ritchie) and Kat Slater (Jesse Wallace)
Kat and Alfie were married at Christmas... eventually

But it is not always doom and gloom in Albert Square at Christmas.

Three years ago 15 million people tuned in to see Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) and Alfie Moon (Shane Ritchie) get married.

But it was not without its problems - Alfie was still waiting for his divorce to be finalised on the morning of the ceremony.

But they did get to tie the knot on Christmas Day after all.


It is only in recent years that ITV's Coronation Street has jumped on the festive misery bandwagon.

Past storylines have been fairly upbeat. Curly Watts (Kevin Kennedy) and Emma Taylor (Angela Lonsdale) married on Christmas Eve 2000 - with the couple having a baby on Boxing Day a year later.

Karen McDonald (Suranne Jones)
Suranne Jones's character Karen McDonald left at Christmas

But tragedy struck in 2002 as Janice Battersby (Vicky Entwistle) left Les (Bruce Jones) for his best friend, Dennis Stringer (Charles Dale).

Les attempted to kill himself and was found by Dennis who tried to get him to hospital. He was killed on the way in a car crash though and Les survived.

Two years ago the Street witnessed an almighty showdown between Karen McDonald (Suranne Jones) and Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford).

After losing her own baby, Karen was accused of kidnapping Tracy's - and a fight broke out between the two women on the factory roof.

Karen left the Street on Boxing Day after husband Steve (Simon Gregson) told her he had had enough.


Emmerdale used to be overlooked at Christmas - but that changed in 1993 when a plane hit the Yorkshire Dales.

Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby)
Some of Jack Sugden's farm was destroyed in the plane crash
The sensational storyline saw several characters killed off and left Chris Tate (Peter Amory) in a wheelchair.

Ratings soared to 18 million - but the storyline proved controversial, coming just five years after the Lockerbie air disaster.

A decade later Emmerdale was hit again by another disaster which saw viewing figures shoot up once again.

A storm hit the village on New Year's Eve 2003 which killed Tricia Dingle (Sheree Murphy) after the Woolpack's roof collapsed on top of her.


Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) and Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson)
The lesbian kiss in Brookside was controversial

Channel 4's Brookside is no longer with us, but one festive storyline is still talked about to this day.

On Christmas Eve 1993, the Liverpool-based soap hit the headlines after Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) smooched with neighbour Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson) before the 9pm watershed.


ITV's Crossroads was also no stranger to festive drama - a 1968 episode saw David Jason appear as motel gardener Bernie Kilroy, who went on a spree of destruction following a breakdown.

And in 1978 the divorce between Stan and Jill Harvey came to a head, with 16 million viewers seeing Jill lose her battle to keep their daughter Sarah Jane.

The Christmas episode saw Jill alone in the motel living room, where she broke down, starting her addiction to sleeping pills.

Richard 'quit soap over wedding'
07 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
Wendy Richard to leave EastEnders
10 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Wendy Richard's dramatic soap life
10 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Brookside bows out after 21 years
05 Nov 03 |  Entertainment


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