Never one to shy away from the big topics and issues of the day, BBC flagship show EastEnders, is once again setting the agenda and is on course to shock its fans and critics alike.

In the past the controversial soap has screened plots involving stolen babies, lesbian kisses and probably most notably, was the first to resurrect a lead character who had previously been murdered before murdering him for a second time.

But now in a sensational plot-twist worthy of a Le Carre thriller, it’s rumoured that later this month one of the show’s iconic lead characters is being lined up to crack a smile – in character – and on camera!

BBC top brass is said to be concerned at the news, and if the producers do actually go ahead with the radical departure from the show’s normal wall-to-wall misery fest, then they can expect to come in for some harsh criticism from their loyal fan base.

One Walford insider said: ‘It’s thrown us all into turmoil as nobody can quite believe it really. I mean, somebody smiling on Albert Square beggars belief. What next, actual laughter or a light comedy storyline? They’ll be calling this place Coronation Street before much longer!’

‘It’s mental! Cast members are being issued with scripts containing only their own lines and the pressure it’s putting everyone under is colossal. And you mark my words, our fans are going to hate it.’

Show aficionados might remember that it was believed Arthur Fowler once smiled in an episode in 1985, but producers moved quickly to scotch the suggestion following a deluge of complaints from furious viewers.

In a hastily issued statement they insisted that he was in fact: only portraying a nasty bout of trapped-wind following a particularly indigestible bacon butty in Ali’s caff.