Soapland's most shocking moments of 2021 from Coronation Street legend's exit to Emmerdale's pub explosion

SOAP fans have been treated to a year of spectacular drama that has left viewers on the edge of their seats.

From serial killers, to shock deaths and an emotional goodbyes, it's safe to say that 2021 has been jampacked with a string of explosive storylines that has kept soap lovers hooked.

Over the past 12 months, TV buffs have tuned in to see Coronation Street legend Roy Cropper say an emotional farewell to the cobbles, Emmerdale's Meena Jutla go on a killing spree and EastEnders favourite superbitch Janine Butcher make a showstopping comeback.

We take a look back on these moments, which had soap viewers either blubbering, in fits of laughter or hiding behind their sofa in horror.

Roy Cropper's farewell (Coronation Street)

For almost three decades, David Neilson has played the legendary character, who ran Roy's Rolls and was a friendly shoulder to cry.

Fans of the show were left in floods of tears last month as Roy bid farewell to his niece Nina in heartfelt and emotional scenes. 

Despite appearing to hint that he has made his last appearance on the programme, viewers were hopeful that Roy might decide against heading to South America and return to the cobbles.

David, however, has suggested that Roy has left the Manchester-based soap for good – much to the disappointment of fans. 

“I’m 72, obviously,” he told Inside Soap.

“When Corrie aired Norris' funeral, we had a scene with the hearse pulling up – and because of Malcolm Hebden, I thought 'I'm really sorry that I won't get to work with him again'.

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"But there are two exits in this for me – one for the character and one for David. Hopefully, they won't coincide – maybe they will.

"I know Roy leaving will get a reaction. It's a big part of your life and a big part of that popular culture. He will be remembered for a long while."

Meanwhile, fans also said goodbye to busybody Norris Cole in emotional scenes, which saw his closest pals gather to say farewell at his funeral.

Malcolm Hebden played the shop owner between 1994 to 2020. At the age of 81, he announced his retirement from acting due to ill health.

Seb Franklin's & Nina Lucas' brutal attack (Coronation Street)

Coronation Street viewers were left feeling sick after Nina Lucas and Seb Franklin were violently attacked by Corey Brent’s gang back in April.

The couple – who are played by actors Mollie Gallagher and Harry Visinoni in the ITV soap – were on cloud nine after a perfect day and decided to walk back home the long way.

However on their way home they came across Corey’s gang as they drank with Kelly Neelan and began attacking them both.

Nina managed to flee but Seb was being brutally kicked to death on the floor.

This hearbreaking storyline saw many twist and turns, as Seb's family and friends tried to get him justice.

The killer footballer – who is played by actor Maximus Evans – was finally caught and charged with the crime in November.

Harvey Gaskell's reign of terror (Coronation Street)

The drug boss terrorised Leanne Battersby and son Simon Barlow for months – forcing them into witness protection and orchestrating the kidnap of little Sam Blakeman.

Leanne feared for her and Simon's life after Harvey found out they were working with the police to take him down.

Harvey – played by Will Mellor – was jailed after Leanne and aunt Sharon's witness statements, but the villain still had revenge in his sights.

He made a shock return in October when escaped from a prison van and tried to kill Leanne, sister Toyah and Simon.

He then survived being swallowed by the sinkhole and returned to with a gun to shoot Leanne – but killed Natasha Blakeman in a case of mistaken identity.

Viewers were in tears as Natasha said a heartbreaking goodbye to son Sam from her hospital bed.

Death trap sinkhole (Coronation Street)

If that wasn't emotional enough, Johnny Connor's shock death had fans in a blubbering mess.

The businessman – who is played by actor Richard Hawley – bravely saved Jenny’s life after she fell into the sinkhole.

But after she was safe, Johnny’s body gave up and he passed out, drowning in the old sewer system.

But in a devastating scene Johnny began to hear the voice of his late son Aidan calling him dad.

After telling Jenny he loved her too, Johnny slipped away under the water leaving Jenny screaming in anguish.

Explosion at The Woolpack (Emmerdale)

Emmerdale's drama packed episodes have kept fans returning each weeknight for more.

And they won't be disappointed as ITV has teased an one might explosion at The Woolpack on Christmas Day.

In recent weeks, Al Chapman (Michael Wildman) has been conniving and plotting to get his hands on the Woolpack as he plans to turn it into luxury flats.

Having succeeded in investing and becoming a partner, he has already inflicted major changes on the team.

But will this Christmas Day inferno mean his plans have gone up in smoke?  Or could it work in his favour?

And how, with the pub so damaged, will joint owners Chas (Lucy Pargeter) and Marlon Dingle hold onto their livelihoods?

Meena's murders (Emmerdale)

Serial killer Meena Jutla has dominated The Dale – as the evil nurse embarked on a killing spree over the last 12 months.

She first cruelly murdered Leanna Cavanagh, daughter of resident doctor Liam. The youngster was celebrating her birthday but stumbled upon evidence which proved that Meena was involved in old friend Nadine's murder.

Leanna didn't stand a change and was pushed off the bridge to her death.

Next up was Andrea Tate, who had witnessed Meena attempting to drown Victoria on the survival challenge.

Andre tried all she could to escape Meena, but the killer nurse caught up and killed her by bashing her head on a wooden step and leaving her in the middle of a burning maze.

She then went on to try and kill Priya in her sleep after discovering she was in the maze at the time she was chasing Andrea.

However she was interrupted by a nurse and Meena later found out Priya didn’t see anything, so was safe for now.

Last month, Meena killed Ben Tucker after he found bodycam footage of Meena trying to drown Vic.

She hit him over the head with a kayak oar and his body was found by Dawn Taylor.

Meanwhile, Manpreet has grown suspicious of her sister. Will she be Meena's next victim?

The bridge collapse (Emmerdale)

If that wasn't enough drama for one episode, Manpreet Sharma and Charles Anderson fell into a raging river when the rope bridge they were on gave way.

The pair were left fighting for their life after the dramatic bridge collapsed.

The collapse was down to Victoria Sugden and David Metcalfe selfishly climbing across the bridge despite the limit.

The group had been told it was a maximum of two people on the bridge at any one time.

And at that moment she found out as the bridge gave way and Charles and Manpreet plunged into the raging river below.

In spectacular fashion, the stunt left viewers gobsmacked as they watched behind their hands.

End of Paul (Emmerdale)

There are not many people who will miss evil Paul Ashdale and were overjoyed when he was killed off in April.

The gambling addict – who is played by actor Reece Dinsdale in the ITV soap – died on his wedding day after being hit by Jimmy King’s van, crushed under a falling barn beam and caught up in an explosion.

Viewers know Paul has been abusing his son Vinny for months to force him to keep his gambling a secret.

Paul was trapped under a collapsed beam, while Liv tried to save him – but in the end left him to wait for the emergency services with two broken legs.

But as Liv got outside the barn exploded and Liv was knocked unconscious.

Ambulances arrived and all three, Liv, Jimmy and Paul were rushed to hospital but it was Paul who died.

As Mandy watched on, Paul lost his fight for life, leaving her sobbing in her wedding dress.

Return of Janine Butcher (EastEnders)

EastEnders favourite superbitch made a dramatic return to Albert Square in August after seven years.

The scheming villain has already caused a stir in Walford as she framed Jay Brown for masterminding a string of car thefts.

In 2014, viewers saw Janine leave Walford for Paris to be with daughter Scarlett, having been shunned by Albert Square residents for getting away with killing husband Michael.

Kat Slater gave Janine a fake alibi, meaning, just like the other two deaths she caused, Janine got away scot-free.

The news of Janine’s highly anticipated return to the Square initially broke in April earlier this year. 

​​”Bosses have a huge story planned for Charlie’s return,” a source told The Sun.

“They are keeping tight-lipped about whether Janine will come back as a reformed character after all the chaos she has caused in the past.”

Gray Atkins strikes again (EastEnders)

The calculated and abusive solicitor has pulled the wool over the eyes of those in Albert Square for far too long.

Gray murdered wife Chantelle Atkins last year after he pushed her into an pen dishwasher, landing on a knife.

He then strangled Tina Carter after she discovered the truth and disposed of her body.

In April, viewers were horrified as Gray brutally murdered Kush Kazemi by pushing him under a tube train.

As Kush, Whitney and Arthur waited for the tube, Arthur said he needed the toilet and not wanting to be left alone – Whitney took him leaving Kush behind.

But after she'd gone, Gray unhinged and pushed the market stall owner to his death.

The lawyer – who is played by actor Toby Alexander Smith in the BBC soap – is set to marry Chelsea Fox on Christmas Day.

EastEnders fans were left in tears as Maisie Smith's character Tiffany Butcher walked away from Albert Square for the final time.

But will his dark side eventually be exposed?

Tiffany Butcher's exit (EastEnders)

It was revealed in October that actress Maisie, 20, would be leaving the BBC show after 13 years on our TV screens as iconic character Tiff.

Her latest storyline has seen her split from husband Keegan and begin a new relationship with far right thug Aaron while preparing for divorce.

Now, Tiffany has walked away from Albert Square for good, heading to the airport with her brother Liam in preparation for a move to Germany.

Maisie's character Tiffany had spent the night with Keegan after they were briefly reunited, as they both wrestled with their feelings for each other.

Nonetheless, she was adamant that it would be best to wave goodbye to her life in the UK, telling pal Whitney Dean, played by Shona McGarty, she was leaving.

Her final scenes saw her standing outside Walford's tube station in floods of tears as she waited for her husband to come and chase after her, but to no avail.

She had written an emotional love letter to her childhood sweetheart begging him to run to her should he truly want her to stay behind with him.

Little did she know that brother Liam had thrown away the letter, and instead placed the signed divorce papers and Keegan's necklace inside the envelope.

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