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EastEnders fans have been taking to social media to discuss who the Christmas murder victim could be after the BBC soap teased a flas-hforward of the drama to come.
While some think that Albert Square residents including Nish Panesar and Phil Mitchell could be, others suspect that former faces from EastEnders past could make a shock return.
Viewers think they have 'worked out' the identity of the 'knight in shining armour' that could return to potentially protect Linda, after they spotted clues in the flash forward episode that her old flame could return.
READ MORE: EastEnders fans 'work out' Christmas murder victim as character set to 'return from dead'
Here, Daily Star has taken a look at the characters who could make shock returns – including Linda's ex lover.
The Christmas flash forward episode has teased that Linda Carter will have a "knight in shining armour" to lean on during her time of need, as she plans to sell the Queen Vic Pub ahead of the first anniversary of husband Mick's disappearance.
While some viewers think that the "knight" could refer to Linda's friends including Kathy Beale, who told her that they would protect her in the flash forward episode, others have speculated that a figure from Linda's past could return.
Fans think the "knight in shining armour" could be her ex lover Max Branning, who fled Walford in 2021 – unaware that she welcomed their daughter Annie just months later.
So could he return to protect old flame Linda?
Fans seem to think so, with one saying on social media: "Is Max Branning the killer? Linda 's unexpected knight in shining armour, and a knight stands behind stacey in the flashforward."
Max previously had an affair with Stacey Slater too, with the positioning of the photograph behind Stacey seeming to hint at the possibility that he could return to the square.
However could he return and become the victim?
"May take a bet on the dead fella being Max Branning, for reasons unknown. But the Knight in armour behind Stacey would normally be him, so maybe the blood on her hands is roping poor old @mrjakedwood back to E20 only for his demise," suggested another viewer.
Christmas will mark one year since Mick Carter vanished from the clifftop during tense scenes between him, Linda and Janine Butcher.
However, viewers have long speculated that Mick may not be dead as his body was never found – and that he could potentially return by making a shock entrance to the Queen Vic.
But could his potential return also see his demise?
One fan said: "Micks a heavy possibility too," adding: "Mick could come back alive, getting into a brawl with Nish. Suki tries to smooth things over and stop the brawl. The ladies intervene, Nish escapes, leaving Mick lifeless."
Speaking on ITV daytime talk show Loose Women, EastEnders boss Chris Clenshaw has also hinted a potential return for Mick Carter in the future, saying: "Is he still alive? That is the kind of question that's been asked since Christmas Day. It's a soap, anything can happen.
"There's kind of an unwritten rule that if there wasn't a body, there's every chance… Will Mick rock up in Walford in a few years covered in seaweed? Will he be the dead body at Christmas?"
After Linda Carter received a photograph of Shirley Carter and her son Dean Wicks, fans have speculated that the villain could make a surprise return to the soap.
Linda was raped by Dean in 2014, with the photograph reminding her of the terrifying and harrowing incident.
Kathy Beale comforted Linda after she received the photograph and fans think they have worked out that the photograph hints at a potential return for Dean – but that he could be murdered by Linda and Kathy.
"My guess is Dean. Kathy saying to Linda 'You've got a wall of friends around you' in reference to him maybe returning. Keen to see if the bond for these 6 stays strong over the next 10 months, or if it’s a case of be there when you need me," said one fan.
A second agreed, saying: "Interested to see who has been killed. My money's on Dean Wicks after the wall of friends remark."
"Hmmmm I reckon Dean could make a return this year. Not a full time one but for one or two episodes. #Eastenders," added a third.
A fourth added: "Kathy literally said, 'If Dean does come back you will have a wall of friends to protect you.' Is that not hinting?"
Meanwhile, some EastEnders fans have been predicting that Nish Panesar could be the dead body that could be seen in the flashforward, as his controlling behaviour towards Suki Panesar could 'exposed' by the return of a character that viewers presumed to have been murdered.
Nish has told Suki that he has a USB stick proving that she killed Ranveer Gulati, but viewers have predicted that Ranveer could return – despite viewers thinking that he was killed by Ravi Gulati.
If Ranveer did return, fans think he could expose the truth that Nish has been using the USB stick to control Suki – leading to Nish's potential downfall.
"Weird thought – what if it wasn't Ranveer's body that was found and he isn't dead and he comes back at Christmas? Nish trying to use that USB against Suki for her to stay and he ain't dead and Ranveer speaks out that Ravi tried to kill him?" asked one fan.
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