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EastEnders cast: New, leaving and returning characters

A new character is set to shake things up and cause "a bit of a stir"

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THERE is never a shortage of drama when it comes to EastEnders but there’s sure to be some more explosive storylines.

Some characters are set to leave Walford but others are set for comebacks and a new scriptwriter from Emmerdale is part of the reason for the shake-up.

Martin Fowler (James Bye) – returned

Stacey's ex Martin is heading back to Albert Square
Stacey’s ex Martin is heading back to Albert SquareCredit: BBC

Fans will be delighted to see that Martin Fowler has returned to the Square this year.

The character, played by James Bye, wasn’t seen since last year as James took time out for panto.

Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) – returned

Sharon hasn't been seen in Walford since Christmas when Keanu was killed
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Sharon hasn’t been seen in Walford since Christmas when Keanu was killedCredit: BBC

Sharon Watts departed for Australian to see her best mate Michelle.

She was eager to escape Walford after the Six stroyline and the demise of her husband Keanu Taylor.

EastEnders gave no official reason for Letitia’s departure from the soap but she is now back.

Her co-star Diane Parish, who plays Denise Fox, confirmed the beloved character’s return.

Max Bowden has been axed
Max Bowden has been axedCredit: BBC

Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) – left

Fan favourite actor Max Bowden has been booted out of the BBC One drama after making his debut as Ben Mitchell in 2019.

The soap star made his exit this year as his contract ended in March 2024.

Speaking about Max’s exit, a source said: “Max has played Ben for the last four years and bosses decided his time on the show was up.”

It is thought that his off-screen life was enough to convince soap bosses to give him the axe.

“There has been a lot of noise around him for a bit too long and that can take away from the drama on the show.”

“He went in for a meeting as his contract was up for renewal next year.”

“No one knew how it was going to go and following discussions it was decided that he would leave.”

Micah Balfour is joining May 2024
Micah Balfour is joining May 2024Credit: BBC

Junior Knight (Micah Balfour) – joining

New character Junior Knight, played by Micah Balfour, is set to join the square.

The former Emmerdale star has swapped the Dales for Walford as he’s set to join in May 2024.

The eldest child and only son of George Knight has been estranged from him for years but will finally make his debut in the coming weeks.

Speaking about his exciting role of Junior, Balfour said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the cast of EastEnders as part of the Knight family. I grew up watching the show and many of the characters have been part of my life for as long as I can remember, so walking onto the Square for the first time was the most surreal experience of my career!

“It’s a privilege to work with Colin Salmon, who I’ve watched with admiration for many years, and Francesca Henry and Molly Rainford, who are dynamite on screen, as well as the amazing Harriet Thorpe and Kellie Bright.

“Junior is an exciting character to play as he’s a complex man, and he’s going to cause a bit of a stir!”

Is he going to cause some drama?

Johnny Carter is finally back in the Square to help his struggling mother Linda
Johnny Carter is finally back in the Square to help his struggling mother LindaCredit: BBC

Johnny Carter (Charlie Suff) – returned

Linda Carter has been spiralling out of control for several months and her alcohol addiction took over once again.

Help came to her side as her son Johnny Carter is back in Albert Square.

The second youngest of the Carter siblings was last seen in January, 2018, as he waved a heartfelt goodbye to his large family to start his legal career in Manchester.

Actor Charlie Suff has reprised the role of Johnny Carter from Ted Reilly.

Speaking about what’s ahead for his character, Charlie said: “I would say that there are a lot of people whom Johnny hasn’t seen for a long time – some he’s very happy to see, and some he isn’t.”

“I think Johnny is coming back with a bang, wanting to show the people of Walford that he’s all grown up and not to be messed with.”

Patsy Palmer has been part of life in Walford for several decades
Patsy Palmer has been part of life in Walford for several decadesCredit: PA

Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer) – returned

Five years have passed since EastEnders legend Patsy Palmer was last seen in the role of Bianca Jackson.

The beloved character was last seen in 2019, making her debut in 1993 before departing in 1999 and then returning from 2008 to 2014.

Patsy returned to the set of the London-based program as her daughter figure Whitney Dean left Walford to join her in Milton Keynes following a devastating separation with partner Terry Spraggan.

And with Whitney set to leave Walford for good, Bianca is thought to be playing a key role in her upcoming exit.

Speaking about reprising her role, Patsy said: “I’m so excited to be reprising the role of Bianca.”

“EastEnders holds such a special place in my heart so it’s always a pleasure to be back.”

But what’s ahead for her?

Keanu Taylor was killed off
Keanu Taylor was killed offCredit: BBC

Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) – left

After six years in Albert Square, Keanu Taylor met a tragic end on Christmas Day, 2023.

The hunk played by Danny Walters was at the core of a huge murder mystery teased ten months in advance with a nail-biting flashforward scene that shook viewers to the core.

Keanu Taylor took part in a fake kidnapping plot targeting Sharon’s son Albie Watts as the soap legend was planning to move to Abu Dhabi, and his mother Karen helped him.

The kidnapping ordeal ended with Keanu and Sharon deciding to give their romance ANOTHER chance – but he had also managed to extort £50k from Phil Mitchell.

Unbeknownst to him, Sharon then found out that Albie was never his son to begin with but she kept the secret to herself for several weeks.

Things came to a head for Keanu when his sister Bernie Taylor told Phil everything he and their mother had been up to.

Phil crashed Keanu and Sharon’s wedding, revealing everything to his ex-wife.

This triggered a series of unfortunate events for Keanu as Sharon finally revealed he was not Albie’s father and he tried to strangle her in a fit of rage.

Unfortunately for him, Linda Carter was present, along with four other Walford women.

The Vic landlady stabbed Keanu to save Sharon and his body was laid to rest underneath Kathy Beale’s café.

Since then, Keanu has been haunting Denise Fox as the hairstylist’s mental health is on a rapid decline.

Karen left the Square for a new life abroad
Karen left the Square for a new life abroadCredit: BBC

Karen Taylor (Lorraine Stanley) – left

Lorraine Stanley took on the role of Karen Taylor for the first time in 2017 and her on-screen family followed suit.

But after six years on our screens, the fan favourite was written out of the long-running show.

“It’s always a tough call for bosses when deciding which characters will leave the soap, but it has to be done to keep storylines fresh and create new arcs for characters”, a source told The Sun.

“Lorraine had a great run on the soap and was a real scene stealer with her comic timing and she has certainly made her mark with fans.”

Taking to Instagram after the news of her exit leaked, Lorraine wrote: “Hey everyone! I’m so grateful for all of your lovely messages this past week. Thank you to Daran Little for creating the Taylors and to the BBC for giving me the opportunity to play such a fabulous character.”

“I’ll be sad to be saying goodbye to Karen Taylor and will miss all the cast and crew at Eastenders.”

“However I’m looking forward to my next chapter and excited about being a jobbing Actor again & starting new ventures”.

Theories circulated online about Karen’s exit with many fans speculating she could be headed to Germany to be with her son Keegan.

But things turned out more dramatic than expected.

After faking Albie Watts’ kidnapping ordeal with her son Keanu and taking a whopping amount of ransom money from Phil Mitchell, Karen took the fall.

Caught out and unwilling to face more turmoil, she made a run for it with Phil’s money, Mitch Baker and the rest of their family, with the exception of Bernie Taylor.

The Taylor-Bakers fled abroad for a fresh start and luxury lifestyle.

Karen then returned to Walford in February, 2024, after her son Keanu mysteriously vanished.

Determined to know where Keanu was, and completely unaware he’d actually been murdered, Karen asked questions, ruffling feathers along the way.

Bernie eventually convinced her to let the matter go, convinced her brother would eventually turn up.

Karen was last seen climbing into a late night taxi, with sunglasses on her nose, as she waved an emotional and tearful goodbye to her daughter Bernie.

Brian Conley will be leaving the show in late 2023
Brian Conley will be leaving the show in late 2023Credit: BBC

Tom “Rocky” Cotton (Brian Conley) – left

Kathy Beale (played by Gillian Taylforth) made the ultimate sacrifice in the wake of Keanu Taylor’s death.

The Square stalwart tied the knot with Rocky Cotton after pushing through many obstacles and was blindsided by his former wife Jo who revealed they weren’t officially divorced.

While the lovebirds managed to get themselves out of a difficult situation with Jo by sacrificing a part of the Beale family empire, more trouble will be coming to the couple.

Brian Conley was confirmed to be leaving the show on September 12, 2023.

The Sun reported the actor and comedian unexpectedly quit his role as the rogue Rocky and the abrupt exit will have an impact on the Christmas murder storyline, teased back in February 2023.

The BBC released a statement amid rumours of a rift behind the scenes and claimed the departure had actually been planned “for some time.”

“There is absolutely no truth in any claims of a feud with bosses and the show fully support Brian in his decision to leave which was made some time ago”, the statement reads.

“We wish him the best of luck for the future as we continue to work towards his exit storyline which has been in the works for some time.”

Meanwhile, a source told The Sun that Brian’s decision to leave left soap bosses fuming as they worked out a new outcome for their whodunnit scheduled to unravel during the festive period.

“There has been a lot said in private about him messing up their plans”, the source said.

“Whatever has wound him up, it feels like he can’t get out of there quick enough – and now they’re going to have to rewrite their storyline plans for his rapid exit.’

“There was always a plan for a major death at Christmas — but it wasn’t initially going to be this.”

“If Brian wants out, it makes sense to switch it around. There’s time to do that before they start filming the Christmas storylines.”

Rocky’s exit was aired in late 2023, following the explosive events that unfurled on Christmas Day.

The former con man immediately caught on to the Six’s murder secret and he was turned in to the authorities by the group of women.

Rocky was promptly arrested and thrown behind bars but could he ever return?

Freddie was arrested for attempted murder
Freddie was arrested for attempted murderCredit: BBC

Freddie Slater (Bobby Brazier) – returning

The fan favourite character is facing an uncertain future in Albert Square after his brutal assault on Theo Hawthorne.

Freddie caught his former teacher Theo trying to rape his cousin Stacey Slater and saw bright red.

History repeated itself in a shocking nod to his mother Little Mo and her actions against Trevor Morgan as Freddie armed himself with an iron and used it to beat Theo.

The stalker was left lifeless on the kitchen floor while Eve Unwin and Stacey came up with a cover story for Freddie.

According to their official version of events, Theo broke into No.31 with a weapon, forcing Freddie to act in self-defence.

Despite this, Freddie was still arrested for attempted murder and taken in for questioning.

In an episode aired on Thursday, October 5, 2023, Jean Slater was told what truly happened before being chosen by Freddie as his support system for his police interview.

Freddie was eventually released on bail and made the decision to leave the Square to spend some time with his mother Little Mo.

He was driven out of Walford by Harvey Monroe before Jack Branning announced that Theo was awake and his version of events contradicts Freddie’s – but what’s in store for the fan favourite?

Bobby Brazier left the show as he took part in Strictly Come Dancing.

“I’m taking a break. I’ve filmed it all, and I’m not telling you. I’ll be back”, he promised.

Despite leaving for a few months, he is set to return to the soap.

Executive producer Chris Clenshaw teased to RadioTimes: “In terms of Freddie, he obviously left after a huge storyline in which we saw a very, very different Freddie – we’ve not seen him kind of act in that way before although I think we understood exactly where that was coming from.”

He added: “When Freddie returns, he’s probably done a little bit of growing up since being away.”

Priya is Ravi's long-lost love
Priya is Ravi’s long-lost loveCredit: BBC

Priya Nandra-Hart (Sophie Khan Levy) – joined

Ravi Gulati (Aaron Thiara) had an unexpected family reunion after the disappearance of his son Nugget.

Sixth Commandment star Sophie Khan Levy joins the line-up as Ravi’s long-lost love… and the mother of young Nugget.

It was then quickly revealed that the lad isn’t their only child as they share a secret daughter named Avani.

The news caused a stir in Walford and a massive shock to Ravi who had no clue he is the father of two children.

While he is known for his devious deeds in the Square, Ravi’s past remains shrouded in mystery.

Could Priya and Avani be the answer to all our questions about him?

Soap boss Chris Clenshaw announced the newcomer by saying: “We’re excited to introduce Priya and Avani, two women guaranteed to cause big drama in Albert Square. Little is known about Ravi and Priya’s doomed romance, but she’s a big missing piece in his past.”

“The revelation that he’s got another child will floor Ravi, and he is set to face a big challenge in his life when he is forced to cope with such a big shock to the system. We’re delighted to welcome Sophie and Aaliyah to the EastEnders family.”

Sophie Khan Levy added: “I’m super excited to be joining the show, and I can’t wait to see what trouble Priya gets herself into! I watched EastEnders when I was growing up, so to see so many familiar faces and to walk onto the set is a dream come true.”

How will Ravi react when he finds out he has a daughter?
How will Ravi react when he finds out he has a daughter?Credit: BBC

Avani Nandra-Hart (Aaliyah James) – joined

As mentioned above, Priya is joined by her teenage daughter Avani, portrayed by Aaliyah James.

Prior to her EastEnders debut, airing in October, 2023, Aaliyah was seen in the TV series Inside Man where she played the role of a train passenger.

“To be given this opportunity as my official debut to screen is a true blessing. I have found home in the supportiveness of the cast and crew, and I’m very thankful to feel a part of the EastEnders family already.

“I can’t wait to bring Avani to life and to walk her path in Walford, and I’m excited to see what the universe has planned for my own future.”

What’s in store for her?

Whitney will be written out of the long-running show
Whitney will be written out of the long-running showCredit: BBC

Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) – leaving

Another soap legend is due to make her exit from the Square after 15 years.

Whitney Dean star Shona McGarty will be waving goodbye to Walford and fans are begging soap bosses to give her the happy ending she deserves after being put through the wringer.

“I have decided to spread my wings and will be leaving EastEnders. I have loved my years in the show”, Shona told The Sun on Sunday.

“I have been trusted with some incredible storylines and have made amazing friendships — and family — which will endure.”

According to one source, the soap star “is hoping the door will be left open for her character to return one day, but nothing is guaranteed and it is all in the hands of the scriptwriters.”

Whitney was recently seen leaving the Square to go to Milton Keynes but actress Shona McGarty is still filming scenes on the Elstree Centre set.

The Sun then showed an explosive first look at her EastEnders exit as Whitney could be fatally mowed down by a car.

Lucy Benjamin recently came back to EastEnders
Lucy Benjamin recently came back to EastEndersCredit: BBC

Lisa Fowler (Lucy Benjamin) – left

More than three years after her departure from the BBC One program, Lisa Fowler came back with a vengeance and her granddaughter Peggy Mitchell Jr.

Lucy Benjamin reprised her role on Monday, July 10, 2023, and the schemer has been trying to play tricks on Keanu Taylor as payback for his poor treatment of her daughter Louise.

But the actress was only due to appear for a guest stint as her on-screen alter ego struggles with a gambling addiction.

Lucy Benjamin made her debut as Lisa Fowler in 1998 and left the show as a regular character in 2003.

She has since made several guest appearances in 2010, 2017 and from 2019 to 2020.

Lisa Fowler was seen leaving the Square once again in a hurry with Peggy Jr in tow and Keanu was devastated.

Will she ever return?

Patrick Trueman's wife Yolande is coming back to Albert Square
Patrick Trueman’s wife Yolande is coming back to Albert SquareCredit: BBC

Yolande Trueman (Angela Wynter) – returned

Actress Angela Wynter has agreed to return to EastEnders as Patrick Trueman’s ex-wife Yolande later this summer.

The Walford legend left to reunite with his old flame after their split in 2008.

Speaking about her return, Angela said: “Yolande is back in the Square! I have been really looking forward to playing her again and have had a beautiful time on set so far. I can’t thank the cast and crew enough for the warm welcome back!”

Soap producer Chris Clenshaw added: “I’m thrilled to welcome the immensely talented Angela back to the role of Yolande Trueman.”

“Although we haven’t seen Yolande for some years, her departure from the Square and the breakdown of her marriage to Walford’s living legend, Patrick, left some unfinished business between the pair.

“We, therefore, thought it was important to explore a reunion between the two. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have her back!”

Yolande made her return to Albert Square on August 7, 2023, after six years of absence.

Shirley left Walford following her son Mick's supposed death
Shirley left Walford following her son Mick’s supposed deathCredit: BBC

Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) – returning

A heartbroken Shirley Carter left Walford after her son Mick supposedly vanished and died at sea on Christmas Day 2022.

The fan favourite walked out with Lady Di the dog to stay with her daughter Carly Wicks, which led to her reconnecting with her rapist son Dean to Linda Carter’s horror.

Actress Linda Henry is taking an extended break from filming but the BBC confirmed her exit isn’t final.

When will she return?

And how will she react to the many changes in The Vic?

Could Sam return to Walford?
Could Sam return to Walford?Credit: BBC

Sam Mitchell (Kim Medcalf) – left

The youngest of the Mitchell siblings returned to Walford in explosive scenes in April, 2022, six years after she was last seen (portrayed by Danniella Westbrook) during her mother Peggy’s funeral.

Sam shook things up as soon as she returned, even going head to head with her long-term foe Sharon Watts.

She got very close to a fresh start in Germany with Ricky Butcher but eventually stayed behind to support her son Ricky Branning cope with the idea of fatherhood.

But in 2023, Sam got the offer of a lifetime from another former fiancé, Don.

The latter asked her to be at the reigns of a business in Spain and, realising the money could help Ricky Jr. with the arrival of his baby, Sam decided to leave Walford.

Sam eventually returned to the Square in November, 2023 for a handful of weeks.

She was rushed out of Walford after revealing to Kat Slater that her brother Phil had cheated on her with Emma Harding in a dramatic showdown in The Queen Vic.

Is her exit final?

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/
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