It seems like it’s going to be another television tear-jerker in store for EastEnders fans this Christmas.
BBC bosses have revealed to the Daily Mirror that long-time soap legend Charlie Slater is set to leave the program in a dramatic New Year’s Eve plot.
Albert Square has only just seen the return of 82-year-old Derek Martin, who has played Charlie for 15 years since 2000.
Our favourite black cab driver first left the show for a short break in 2011, making multiple returns in the last four years and most recently this month.
But BBC sources say his character will be killed off permanently during the festive episode, although they have not given any more spoiler details.
It will also coincide with the return of Queen Vic favourites Kat Slater and Alfie Moon, played by Jessie Wallace and Shane Richie.
Kat, who is one of Charlie’s three daughters, will be hit hardest by his departure.
A source said; ‘The storyline will be the catalyst for her [Kat] to learn more secrets which will see her and Alfie eventually head to Ireland.
‘[The audience] will be waiting to see if he and Kat can mend bridges before he dies.’
A widowed Charlie first arrived in Walford in September 2000 with his three daughters – Kat, Little Mo and Lynne, as well as Kat’s secret daughter Zoe, played by Michelle Ryan.
Derek has been part of many memorable storylines, including serving a three-month prison sentence for attacking Little Mo’s rapist Graham Foster in 2004.
In 2011 he was a crucial part of the baby-swapping story, which saw Kat’s baby Tommy stolen by Ronnie Branning after the barmaid’s toddler died of cot death.
And in a script reminiscent of previous plots, it seems that Charlie’s debut scenes this month will be collecting Lacey Turner from the hospital after she gives birth to Kush Kazemi’s illegitimate child.
The news comes hot on the heels of the revelation that Coronation Street’s favourite Roy Cropper will be leaving the cobbles after more than twenty years.
Still time for one last round in The Queen Vic!