Eldest Branning sibling Derek, played by Jamie Foreman, arrived in the soap last November and very quickly made his presence felt around Walford.
Foreman – the son of real-life former gangster Freddie Foreman – is said to have wanted Derek to become one of the most notorious soap villains, before leaving the show on a high.
Last week he was spotted filming on location with a gang of thugs chasing his character.
A source revealed: “Everyone working on the show is confident viewers will be on the edge of their seats once again over the festive period.
“The Branning family are going to be huge this Christmas, apart from Derek’s dramatic departure there’s the matter of one of the Branning brothers being revealed as Kat Moon’s secret lover. We will also see the return of Derek’s sister Carol Jackson, daughter Bianca Butcher and her kids for the nuptials.”
Lauren’s relationship with her cousin Joey and the truth behind Max’s secret payments to a mystery recipient will also be revealed over the coming months.
When asked about the reports regarding Foreman’s departure, an EastEnders spokesperson said: “We don’t want to comment and spoil it for the viewers.”