EastEnders scriptwriters have revealed the Queen Victoria pub will be destroyed in a nuclear explosion as part of a major storyline later this year.
The scenes will allow them to move to a completely new set to coincide with a move to high definition in the autumn. It is thought that the current set was built in standard definition and will not be useable.
In a plotline which seems closer to a series of 24 than it does to everyday life in Albert Square, a terrorist cell will plant a backpack nuclear device behind the bar when Peggy has gone off to make a cup of tea. Most of the inhabitants of Walford will be evacuated before the bomb goes off, but several major characters are likely to be killed off.
One of them will be landlady Peggy Mitchell. Actress Barbara Windsor is leaving the soap after 16 years. In the story Peggy will stay behind to place a lead and concrete casing around the bomb to reduce the blast damage and limit the radioactive fallout. Her selfless act will allow Walford to be quickly rebuilt and reoccupied.
The new HD series will begin with the first occupants moving back into the area, and follow their stories as they pick up their lives. A modern new bar, Dirty's Den, will be built in place of the Queen Vic, and is likely to form the centre location of the programme.