'The Wall vs. EastEnders Christmas Special': Danny Dyer plays with Walford pals and comedians

Danny Dyer hosts 'The Wall vs. EastEnders Christmas Special' with Walford co-stars James Bye and Maddy Hill.
Danny Dyer hosts 'The Wall vs. EastEnders Christmas Special' with Walford co-stars James Bye and Maddy Hill. (Image credit: BBC)

The Wall vs. EastEnders Christmas Special and Celebrities is set to give us some tense studio high jinks on Christmas TV with two festive specials on BBC1, plus Danny Dyer's game show with balls is back for a brand new series in the new year. 

Danny's two Christmas specials feature some familiar faces trying to raise money for their chosen charities, as the first features Danny’s EastEnders co-stars Maddy Hill and James Bye, aka Walford’s Nancy Carter and Martin Fowler. The second special then sees comedians and real-life couple Sarah Millican and Gary Delaney taking on the mighty Wall of dropping balls too. 

As a reminder The Wall sees contestants in pairs answering questions voiced by TV news legend Angela Rippon as balls quickly fall through the Wall, which resembles a giant penny drop machine from an amusement arcade! Where these balls land — in slots at the bottom representing different cash amounts — decides the money which is won or lost! Will The Wall play Grinch for this festive season or can Maddy, James, Sarah and Gary win big for their charities?

Here's our guide to The Wall vs. EastEnders Christmas Special plus our chat with Danny Dyer, who'll also play a big part in the EastEnders stories for Christmas 2021... 

Danny Dyer hosts 'The Wall vs Celebrities' for two Christmas specials.

There'll be fun and banter with pals as Danny Dyer hosts 'The Wall vs. EastEnders Christmas Special'. (Image credit: BBC)

'The Wall vs. EastEnders Christmas Special' air date

The Wall vs. EastEnders Christmas Special is on BBC1 on Thursday Dec. 23 at 7.15pm. The show will then be released on the BBCiPlayer streaming service shortly afterwards. We will update on the comedians celebrity special of The Wall when we get an update, but we expect it to run over the New Year weekend.

Danny Dyer on hosting 'The Wall vs EastEnders Christmas special'

Danny Dyer has said on hosting The Wall: "It’s just mad and a weird thing to do, It was nerve-wracking at first as there’s anxiety because it’s a trip into the unknown. But I’m really loving it. You get caught up in the drama as there’s some serious readies at stake."

We spoke to Danny Dyer himself in an exclusive interview about hosting The Wall vs EastEnders and Celebrities Christmas Specials and the new series in 2022. Here's what Danny told us...

What was it like hosting The Wall with Maddy Hill and James Bye playing?

Danny says: "It was nice actually. With the COVID thing on EastEnders, we had a couple of issues. And what they were doing was shutting down bubbles. If one person in that bubble had it then we’d have to take the whole bubble out and we’d have to replace them. So originally it was due to be Natalie Cassidy and Brian Conley play The Wall for Christmas, but we just had a round of testing and we had to halt everything, fumigate everything and they had to go home. So Maddy Hill and James Bye were the reserves. 

"Maddy being one of my best friends in the world – that was good for me. We had a schedule to film 12 episodes in a 10 day period. But when we were losing days it meant that episodes were backing up. So it got to a point where I was doing three episodes a day, and three hours to shoot one show. So I needed a lift and I needed to play The Wall with my friends and so that really helped. It’s a great show that one with Maddy and James. I won’t give too much away… but there's high drama!"

Did you have high expectations for Maddy Hill and James Bye playing The Wall?

Danny says: "I had an inkling that James Bye hadn’t ever seen The Wall. We saw each other in the hotel the night before and I was trying to explain the show to him. I could tell he was lying a little bit, that he was pretending he’d seen it. I think he watched a bit of it on YouTube in a panic on the way up. So he was coming to it blind. It’s really hard to explain the game even though it’s easy to watch. So James didn’t get it – so when you watch the show you’ll see how it pans out. Maddy Hill loves the show and her dad is a massive fan. So she was fine. "   

Who else from EastEnders would you like to see playing The Wall one day?

Danny reveals: "I think probably The Carters. I’d love to see Kelly Bright play it, and maybe Linda Henry. Shirley and Linda would be hilarious. That would be my dream scenario."

Linda Henry as Shirley Carter with Tina.

Linda Henry as Shirley Carter with sister Tina. (Image credit: BBC)

What was it like having Sarah Millican and Gary Delaney on the show too?

Danny says: "She was amazing. I’ve got a bit of a crush on Sarah Millican.  She does it for me – I can’t tell you why. I needed that lift, because we were doing three shows a day. She was actually the last show that we filmed, so I was hanging on for dear life. I was really struggling. And she just lifted the whole show. She’s just got such an energy. And again, it’s such an interesting game – the way it pans out. She forces the issue – she doesn’t have much luck. Her fella, Gary, he was in isolation – but he’s smart, he’s very switched on."

Sarah Millican is a guest on The Complaints Department

Sarah Millican plays 'The Wall vs Celebrities' this Christmas, pairing up with her husband Gary Delaney. (Image credit: Comedy Central)

How well do you think you’d do if you took part as a contestant on The Wall?

Danny says: "If I was playing The Wall, I think I’d be a little bit reckless actually. So in answer to the question, I’d be useless." 

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.