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'EastEnders' 2022 preview: the 11 biggest storylines this year

EastEnders logo Queen Vic
There is plenty of drama heading for Walford this year. (Image credit: BBC)

After an explosive start to the New Year, EastEnders has whetted our appetites for the drama to come in 2022. 

The fallout from Christmas will see the lives of the Walford residents continue to unravel, as killer secrets are at risk of being exposed, dark revenge plots simmer away, and even the strongest relationships are put to the test.

And there's going to be lots of action to enjoy, as the BBC has confirmed three out of the four weekly episodes of the soap will be returning to their 30-minute running time after Covid restrictions had an impact on filming.

So on that positive note, here's a preview of what's coming up this year on Albert Square...

Killer Gray finally exposed

Chelsea Fox talks to Gray Atkins in EastEnders

Gray's crimes are closing in.  (Image credit: BBC)

Chelsea's Christmas was anything but merry, after discovering she'd married a murderer, then going through the trauma of giving birth prematurely. Finally there's a bit of good news when the doctors inform her things are moving in the right direction with little Jordan. But while Gray hopes this means they'll be able to start their future as a family, Chelsea's terrified of returning to his house of horrors and history repeating itself. Sensing her anxiety, Gray ups the ante and manipulates the new mum's fragile state to his advantage in an attempt to isolate her from her family. But what the sinister solicitor doesn't realise is that Chelsea knows exactly what he's capable of and is working with Whitney and Kheerat to bring him down. Whit is steadfast in their plan to get justice for Chantelle, and tells Chelsea to stay in the game, insisting Gray will slip up eventually. Chelsea agrees to put herself in danger by playing the role of adoring wife, but will the risk pay off and lead to Gray getting his comeuppance once and for all?

The search for Tina continues

Mick Carter with his son in EastEnders

The Carters still have no idea what happened to Tina.  (Image credit: BBC)

It's been a year since Tina became Gray's second victim, after she threatened to reveal he abused and murdered Chantelle. After strangling her death on his sofa, Gray disposed of Tina's body in a mystery location and has been covering up the crime ever since. 12 long months of anguish have followed for the Carters, and Shirley is still desperate to know what's happened to her sister who seemingly vanished without a trace. Gray recently admitted he lied about seeing on Tina on board a bus, and with Whitney and co now secretly working against him, the walls are closing in. Will it be a member of the Carter clan who discovers the truth about Tina and outs Gray as a serial killer? 

Aaron causes danger for the Monroes

Harvey Monroe talks to Aaron Monroe in EastEnders

Aaron has brought nothing but trouble to Walford.  (Image credit: BBC)

Aaron Monroe's far-right storyline will continue as the police launch an investigation into the aborted bomb attack on The Albert. Bobby's suspicions about his girlfriend's bigoted brother are building, and when he spies Aaron talking with fellow activist Neil, he decides to investigate further. Has he just landed himself in mortal danger? The situation continues to spiral when Neil threatens Dana's life, forcing Aaron to agree to run an extremist operation in Manchester in exchange for his sister's safety. It's make or break for Walford's newest family as Harvey begs Aaron to turn his back on his terrorist activities, but a shock arrival on the Square will have a lasting impact on everyone involved.

Janine plays dirty to get Mick

Janine Butcher is furious in EastEnders

Janine has set her sights on Mick. (Image credit: BBC)

Mick is back on the singles market thanks to Janine's wicked manipulation - not that he knows it. After being together with his beloved L since they were teens, the landlord is struggling to adjust to life without her, and it's not being made easier by Janine, who's clearly still determined to get her claws into him. Mick's mates Mitch and Rocky reckon he should treat 2022 as a fresh start and throw himself in the world of dating. But it's all too much too soon for Mick, and the stress leads him to suffer a crippling panic attack. Will Janine seize the opportunity to swoop in and offer to nurse him back to health? The unscrupulous madam is used to getting what she wants, even if that means playing the long game - but with Danny Dyer quitting the soap later this year, does that mean Mick could be leaving both Linda and Janine heartbroken? 

Ben and Callum are pushed to the brink

Ben Mitchell was terrified as he watched the gang brutally beat up Callum Highway.

The attack has left Ben in a bad way - will he and Callum split?  (Image credit: BBC)

Just when it seems Ben and Callum have finally put their troubles behind them, the violent attack at the hands of far-right extremist Neil and his mob has left them shattered. The savage beating has left Ben haunted memories of the homophobic attack that claimed the life of his late boyfriend, Paul Coker. As Ben refuses to open up, worried Cal summons Paul's grandmother Pam back to Walford to try and help his husband. When concerns about Ben's wellbeing continue to mount, his family stage an intervention, which forces the mini Mitchell to admit he's terrified for his safety. Ben's not the only one struggling, as Neil's attack changes Callum's outlook on life, and plunges the married couple into crisis.

Phil behind bars

Steve McFadden as Phil Mitchell

Will Phil spend the rest of his life in jail? (Image credit: BBC)

Phil's rash decision to go on the run from the police with Raymond is one he's definitely living to regret. His actions lead Kat and Sharon (who, let's face it, are far better suited to being allies rather than enemies) to join forces in a bid to protect him. Thanks to the genius of top brief Richie, Phil's been able to evade jail countless times, but this time his luck has run out and he is now facing life in prison. Will Walford's top dog be seeing 2022, and the rest of his days, out behind bars?

Redemption for Rocky?

EastEnders Rocky Dotty

Rocky's year hasn't got off to the best start.  (Image credit: BBC)

Secrets in Walford have an uncanny knack of being exposed at the Christmas dinner table, and it was Rocky's turn to be shamed when Dotty exposed his duplicitous dealings as the family tucked into their turkey and trimmings. Since discovering con artist Rocky - or should we say Tom Cotton - wasn't the man she thought he was, Kathy is refusing to forgive his sins. Former co-conspirator Dotty doesn't want anything to do with him, and even Rocky's recent health scare hasn't been enough to convince Sonia to give the man she called dad a second chance. Thankfully Rocky has one friend left in Walford - Shirley. But could Rocky and Shirley's newfound friendship lead to something more? And might she be able to help him rebuild those bridges he burnt?

Dotty finds an unlikely ally

Dotty Cotton has a confrontation in EastEnders

Is Dotty being entirely honest with Vinny? (Image credit: BBC)

Dotty is well and truly out of the circle of trust after admitting she was in cahoots with Rocky to scam Sonia. Haunted by her bad behaviour, and Sandy's revelation that her Uncle Tom is actually her father, Dotty is adamant she doesn't want to end up like either of her parents. But she soon realises trying to make amends won't be that simple. After being told by Vinny that Suki wants her out of the bedsit, Dotty has been forced to sleep rough at the allotments. Soon she turns to Vinny to support, suggesting they can be more than just mates if he finds her place to stay. Suki's besotted son is more than willing to help out, but when Keegan works out what's going on, he warns Vinny to be wary. Is Dotty up to her usual tricks and stringing him along? Or are her feelings genuine?

Zack tries to make amends

Zack Hudson in EastEnders

Zack has got some making up to do.  (Image credit: BBC)

Sharon's still in no mood to forgive Zack after finding out he was responsible for Jada fleeing Walford with little Alyssa. The thought of never seeing Denny's daughter again is breaking Sharon's heart, but remorseful Zack is determined to put things right. He vows to do whatever it takes to make it up to his sibling. Will he try and track down Jada and Alyssa and bring them back to the Square? And can Sharon find it in herself to forgive him?

Cancer stricken Stuart struggles 

Stuart Highway is upset in EastEnders

Stuart has a lot on his plate as 2022 kicks off.  (Image credit: BBC)

Stuart's world fell apart last month after receiving the shattering news he has male breast cancer. And his struggle to accept his diagnosis will continue into 2022 as his denial worryingly leads him to delay urgent treatment for the disease. Can anyone help before it's too late? Another thing playing on Stuart's mind is the looming due date of Bernie's baby. The Halfways' surrogate has been off screen for the past few months, but EastEnders' bosses have confirmed Bern will be returning home very soon. Will that be with or without Rainie and Stuart's baby? With things on the rocks for Stuart and Rainie as Stuart continues to suspect that Rainie is sleeping with Mick, can these two ever get back on track? 

A fresh start for Stacey

Stacey Slater has a job interview in EastEnders

Stacey is looking to make 2022 her year of success!  (Image credit: BBC)

Stacey's been relishing life as a free woman, and is determined to make 2022 her year. The mum of three has a brand new business venture thanks to Martin stepping aside and allowing her to have the Walford market inspector job, and she also has her beady eye on another prize. Stace is hoping she might hit the jackpot with her love life too. Will that be with wife Eve, or someone else on the Square? Maybe a certain handsome Panesar? Or is a reunion with her former husband on the cards? However, Stacey might be forced to put her romantic plans on hold when Jean demands her attention elsewhere.  Realising her mum is in need of help, Stacey turns to Kat for assistance, but soon discovers it won't be easy to get her on side.