EastEnders boss John Yorke has warned that not everyone will survive Christmas this year, revealing that his formula for the special episodes involve a death. But could a member of the Branning clan be set to meet their maker? Or might he be referring to a fatality for evil James Willmott-Brown?
The Christmas Day episode will centre around a downfall for Max Branning, with daughters Lauren and Abi as well as the likes of Stacey Fowler, Ian Beale and Phil Mitchell drawn into the catastrophic events. But will Max’s actions be the catalyst for tragedy and might he be the one to pay the ultimate price? Or might departing actresses Jacqueline Jossa or Lorna Fitzgerald be in the firing line?
Elsewhere, a gun is involved in the ongoing plan of Aidan Maguire and we know that the big job could go spectacularly one – could the group of men who are gunning for trouble be staring death in the face? or could it be James Willmott-Brown who is in for a sticky end as the villain collapses when his plotting comes undone?
Speaking at a recent press event, John said: ‘When I arrived at end of June, we had two weeks to work out which stories were going to be in our Christmas stocking this year so I took a long hard look at what was on the table. There were a lot of existing stories that lent themselves to significant endings, but one story in particular was crying out for the epic EastEnders treatment.
‘In context, I was head of department of continuing drama 12 years ago when the Brannings came in so the temptation to bring that story to a full shattering Greek tragedy ending was hard to resist. When the creator of the Brannings Simon Ashdown dropped everything to come back, we worked out this year would have to be about Max facing the consequences of all of his dastardly actions. Ten years after the epic Max and Stacey affair, one of the all time great EE Christmases, things have come full circle and we’re finally going to end that story once and for all.
‘The tag line I invented was the somewhat cheesy mantra – someone old, someone new, someone’s dead and someone’s blue – marketing raised their eyebrows to that one! There are shocking twists for Christmas Day and more coming too.’
Adding what else he has in the pipeline, John teased: ‘There’s a baby, a shooting, a new mate for Mick and a love interest for Whitney, a grave robbery, a heist and a final comeuppance for Willmott-Brown – these are all the ingredients for a classic EastEnders Christmas and New Year.’
John initially took on the role for three months to offer a transition period for the soap but has now signed up to stay for at least a year.
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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”