EastEnders viewers were left stunned after two of the soap’s most popular characters plummeted from the Queen Vic roof on Christmas Day.
The finale of the festive episode saw Lauren and Abi Branning fall to the ground after trying to help their father Max in an explosive finale.
The dramatic scenes signalled a significant split for the beleaguered Branning family and comes three months after actresses Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald, who play the sisters, announced they were leaving the show.
The siblings were shown lying still on the ground after falling with their character’s fate to be revealed in the Boxing Day episode.
Max (Jake Wood) had climbed onto the roof after an episode which saw him face the consequences for his actions over the past year.
Recent weeks have seen Max at his lowest ebb as daughters Abi and Lauren questioned whether they could forgive him for his revenge plot against Walford.
The evil plans, which businessman James Willmott-Brown (William Boyde) helped him with, followed Max being wrongly imprisoned for the murder of Lucy Beale.
He appeared to have won over their support during Monday’s Christmas Day special but as ex-wife Tanya unveiled him as Stephen’s murderer, Max decided to climb onto the roof of the pub.
Lauren and Abi desperately attempted to prevent him jumping but as the former slipped from the height she inadvertently pulled her younger sister with her.
Viewers were shocked by the episode’s climax as many had expected Max to fall.
@Havvarebke posted on Twitter: “I am devastated how can you do this to Abi and Lauren.”
@Orbman68 wrote: “OMG I am still shaking after watching that a brilliant episode and actually gave me goosebumps..there are simply no words,I am speechless..I was not on any level expecting that at the end.”
_Jade_Williams tweeted: “Wow #Eastenders was such a gripping watch tonight, loved the parallel to Bradley’s death and Max/Tanya/Stacey sharing scenes again!”
Thrilled by the feedback, Jake thanked fans for their support and vowed the show would only improve in the New Year.
He wrote on Twitter: “Thank you each and every one of you who posted such lovely comments.
“I truly appreciate them all and am so grateful for your support. Stay with the show, it’s going to be a GREAT 2018.”
In September EastEnders announced Lorna and Jacq would leaving the soap.
Lorna, 21, first arrived in Albert Square 11 years ago, while Jacq, 25, took over from Madeline Duggan in 2010.
EastEnders returns Boxing Day at 7.30pm.