The Christmas TV ratings war is always eagerly awaited in soapland, where the big three compete for audiences. The storylines that dominate the festive season have always been brewing for months, and they never disappoint in terms of high drama.
The difficulty this year (certainly at the time of going to press) is that nobody knows what Christmas is going to look like in different parts of the country and this will inevitably affect what we see.
It is doubtful that any large groups will be gathering in the soaps’ pubs, and it looks as though big family dinners are going to be a no-no, too.
But here’s the real problem: soapland Christmas is a time when people have too much to drink and end up having sex with totally inappropriate locals. You can say goodbye to all that come December.
If there are restrictions about how many can gather around a turkey, the only thing you’ll be seeing under the mistletoe is hand sanitiser.
Maybe this will be the year our favourite characters do what the rest of us do on Christmas Day: plonk ourselves in front of the telly and watch soap.
EASTENDERS: RAY OF NON-SUNSHINE
Denise pursues leads at the Pentecostal church to get closer to Raymond in EastEnders
Throughout her life, Denise has looked like a contestant on Mastermind who, having been told she has two minutes on her specialist subject, doesn’t look as if she could manage two minutes cleaning her teeth.
Men, accidents, poverty, and now a son she gave up for adoption: will anything ever go right for the poor woman? After feeling she is unable to bond with Raymond, she follows some leads at the Pentecostal church where Raymond’s adoptive father was a pastor.
Fair play to Jack, who is being a great support in all this; quite frankly, he just needs to get away and go up west for a few beers of an evening. Trust me, Jack: there are much easier women out there.
In another episode of Cartergate, Katy tells Mick he’s not Frankie’s dad – but is she telling The Troof? Is it Mick’s memory that is at fault, or is Katy yet another in a long line of psycho Walford women who wouldn’t know The Troof if it hit her over the head with the Queen Vic bust?
Hapless Frankie is caught in the middle of all this. Which version would she prefer? Discovering she has a dad (good!) or discovering that dad is Mick (bad!)?
CORONATION STREET: PASSING ON THE PASS
In Coronation Street Steve decides he can’t support Leanne’s appeal over Oliver’s life support
Give Leanne a bottle of wine and a man who stands still long enough and she reverts to type.
After a stressful day in court, she turns to one-time AUFI (Always Up For It) Mr Reliable, Steve; for once, he says no (bring out the bunting!), but comes clean to Tracy (never a good idea, being honest with a woman with a penchant for whacking men to death with heavy objects).
Heartbreaking as the Oliver storyline is, it’s now too much on top of an international pandemic that has already exhausted us. Despite the heartrending performances from all involved, enough is enough.
It looks as though a conclusion might finally be in sight, when Steve decides he cannot support Leanne’s desire to appeal the judge’s decision when she rules in favour of Oliver’s life support being turned off.
As if the Alina/Seb scenario wasn’t tedious enough – how long did that drag on? I think I had ten birthdays – now they’re trying their luck with Adam and Alina.
Is he, as Carla thinks, pursuing her just to get at Sarah? Well, I very much doubt he’s doing it to brush up on his Romanian or perfect his recipe for stuffed cabbage leaves.
Will Alina accept his invitation to dinner? Where are they going to go, for goodness sake? Has anyone even seen a chef in months? I suppose there’s always Speed Daal, which is about as speedy as a rickshaw to India, economy class.
EMMERDALE: FANCY THAT!
In Emmerdale, David (pictured) is left shocked after being told Meena fancies him, by Amy
Why is David surprised when Amy tells him Meena fancies him? Everyone does at some point (not least because the village has been running really low on hot male totty).
Having agreed to a lunch date, why does he cancel, and how will Meena vent her fury? Doubtless she’ll end up reaching for the gun from the props department.
It’s another bad week for Harriet, who one could forgive for hitting the Communion wine cabinet with a vengeance.
Mind you, she’s usually too preoccupied with guys in the vestry to summon up the energy to find the key, let alone open a bottle.