Christmas Day ultimatum for EastEnder Phil Mitchell in dramatic episode
Published 25/12/2015 | 23:36
EastEnders' Phil Mitchell, played by Steve McFadden, has been told this Christmas could be his last in a dramatic Christmas Day episode of the BBC One soap.
The life of another Albert Square resident also hangs in the balance following a car crash caused by Phil, who was drunk and behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time.
At the hospital, a doctor checked out the businessman and gave him a devastating diagnosis.
"Your scan shows you have cirrhosis of the liver, Mr Mitchell, the damage is irreparable, you need help now. If you continue, this will be your final Christmas."
Years of abusing alcohol has finally caught up with Phil.
EastEnders fans were left shocked on Christmas Eve when Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) made a surprise return to Walford - much to the horror of his ex-wife Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack).
Maslen's character last appeared in the soap in October 2013. Talking about his return, he said: "Everyone will probably think he's back for Ronnie, but that wasn't his initial plan. Of course though if Ronnie and Jack see each other then something's going to happen.
"As much as they avoid each other, as soon as they see each other things tend to spark off and that's the case here. It shows they are destined to be together. But it's riddled with complexities as EastEnders is. It's not straightforward."
Meanwhile, Phil's wife Sharon (Letitia Dean) was left distraught after her son Denny (Bleu Landau) was thrown from Phil's car during the accident.
She rushed to the hospital and was told her child had "sustained a head injury".
The build-up to the car accident started early on in the episode when the Beales and Mitchells spent Christmas day together, a gathering that had disaster written all over it from the beginning.
Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) was determined to have a perfect first Christmas with his mother Kathy (Gillian Taylforth) since she returned to London under a cloud.
Tensions flared as his wife Jane (Laurie Brett) revealed that Sharon intended to go to the police and spill the beans about their son Bobby murdering his older sister Lucy.
The worsening relationship between Bobby (Eliot Carrington) and Denny came to a head when the two boys went on a bike ride.
They ended up squabbling and Denny took great satisfaction in revealing he knew Bobby had "killed his sister".
When Bobby returned home without Denny, a blood-covered rag on the table sent Sharon into a frenzy.
Phil and Ian jumped in the car to search for her son and found him relatively unharmed on the nearby common.
During the drive, Ian confronted Denny, demanding to know what was said to upset Bobby.
Phil, who had been knocking back swigs from a hip flask while at the wheel, tried to intervene, but ended up rolling the car.
Things are also unravelling for Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner) who was confronted by her friend Shabnam (Rakhee Thakrar) about the paternity of her baby.
The soap revealed a postpartum psychosis storyline for Stacey a few weeks ago. It seems her downward spiral has begun.
Christmas Day in Albert Square continues with the residents dealing with the stark consequences of all the chaos in the episode due to be broadcast on Boxing Day.