EastEnders Christmas special, review: Brilliant Danny Dyer glues you to your seat

If you’ve have had a few festive meltdowns today then spare a thought for the residents of Albert Square - it'll never be as bad as their Christmas

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EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

He’s already the most overused cast member on the soap but there’s a reason for that: he’s brilliant. The hour-long rollercoaster sees Dyer go through a spectrum of emotions and each one is as believable as the last.

He actually seems like a real bloke, someone you might know rather than a frothy soap caricature. Whether he’s recounting buying the Princess Di-style engagement ring for Linda (Kellie Bright) or crying after the shocking revelations (we’ll get to that shortly), Dyer keeps you glued to your seat.

 

Linda finally tells Mick about the rape and the fallout is palpable. The writers deal with the sexual assault conversation in a sensitive way that a serious issue like this deserves. As this is EastEnders, the gripping and believable drama can only last for so long before it climaxes in a predictable fisticuffs between Mick and Dean (Matt Di Angelo).

Shirley's (Linda Henry) over-the-top reaction send us even further into soap territory - but that's not all. The Earth shattering revelation that Dean is actually Mick’s brother takes the biscuit. The shock is so much that even the badly staged soap fighting stops. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Cue the dum, dum, dum, dum and theme music.

But it wasn’t all about the Carters - a shame really, the whole episode could have been devoted them. Across the Square, there were strange goings-on involving Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) unwittingly unwrapping Lucy’s music box under the Christmas tree. The whole thing added to the Yuletide chill and misery that seems to pervade the air of Walford at this time of year. But compared to the histrionics at the Old Vic it was rather dull and created an urgency to return to the Carters.

EastEnders is always a sobering watch at Christmas. Those of us who aren't committed viewers might not know who most of these people are but it’s easy to pick up and follow – even if it is just for the festive period.

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