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All the big stars who have returned to BBC EastEnders in last year and icons who have said no

Huge EastEnders stars have been making comebacks to Walford over the past year as actress Patsy Palmer prepares to make a return as Bianca Jackson

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Ross Kemp, Danny Dyer and Patsy Palmer

Patsy Palmer is the latest soap star making a comeback as she set to reprise her role as Bianca Jackson in EastEnders.

The actress has announced she will be back in Walford for a short stint this spring. It has been over four years since she last appeared on the BBC soap, as she has found a new glam life for her kids and husband in Los Angeles. Patsy is following in the footsteps of former soap stars who have also returned over the past year.

While some actors have made explosive comebacks on the soap, others have stayed away from making a much-anticipated a return. Here is a look at the big stars who have revived their characters, and the ones who are choosing to stay away.

The actress made her comeback to Albert Square back in September as Emma Harding, following the tragic death of her daughter Lola Pearce. The estranged mother first turned up to Walford after Lola decided to track her down but soon changed her mind. After Emma came clean to Lola about her identity, the pair began to bond but Lola’s brain cancer diagnosis worsened.

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Emma last made her appearance in Walford back in June at her daughter’s funeral. However Emma made her comeback after Lola’s daughter Lexi has been texting her grandmother Emma. Patsy shared how pleased she was to make a return to the soap as Emma. Speaking on This Morning, the 55-year-old said: “I’m a superfan and it really is my dream job. That was really top of list. It was manifested.”

Michelle Collins and Adam Woodyatt as Cindy and Ian Beale

Cindy and Ian Beale

Cindy and Ian Beale returned last year 


BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Michelle Collins burst on to the screen for the first time since 1998 back in June, when she was carted off to prison for attempted murder. Speaking of her comeback, she told The Mirror:“It’s surreal. It’s nerve-wracking but it’s also very exciting.” Michelle admitted that, despite having never fully shed the role of Cindy, she never truly believed the character could be written back in.

“Do you know what, I didn’t think they could ever do it,” she confessed. “Life is about timing. If it had happened five years ago, I probably would’ve said no.” While Adam said he was loving having Ian and Cindy back together. He said: “Working with Michelle’s been like putting on an old pair of slippers. It just works.”

Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning

Lauren Branning

Lauren Branning was reprised after five years away 


BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Five years after her exit, Jacqueline Jossa made an explosive return as Lauren Branning. The 30-year-old I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! winner has head back to Albert Square full-time after briefly returning in December 2022 for Dot Cotten’s funeral and a guest appearance in June 2023 for Cindy Beale’s epic return.

Speaking about her return, Jacqueline said: “I’m really excited. It’s such an amazing time to be back as there is so much buzz around EastEnders at the moment. I’ve been watching and loving it like a fan. Walford holds a special place in my heart, so it really does feel like coming home,” she told The Sun on Sunday. EastEnders fans were thrilled with the news as one tweeted: “Guys im in a state of shock, THEE lauren branning is returning #EastEnders.”

Charlie Brooks as Janine Butcher

Janine Butcher

Charlie Brooks hasn’t made another comeback yet 


BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

The actress made a comeback as Janine Butcher for the third time in 2022 and hasn’t ruled out making a fourth. However, after leaving Walford Charlie has returned to education by embarking on an Open University course. She told The Sunday Post : “I never went to university, and I think that led to my inability to trust my own opinions in the past and not ever feel clever enough, so I decided to do something about it and I’m doing an Open University course.

“I find it quite fascinating. I’m at the beginning stages; I’m learning how to learn. I’m doing my best and it’s exciting times.” Addressing her comeback, Charlie said on This Morning : “I’ve had the best year and a half getting back into Janine’s shoes. She’s so fun to play, but I also love playing all the vulnerable stuff with Janine as well. I’m an actress, so I want to do everything. But, yeah, it is hard.

“I also feel like if she was to stay in the show, the character might not be as strong somehow. I wouldn’t want her to be diluted because she is so full-on, she’s so dramatic, but I always feel like there’s more to know, which is a really good place to be with a character.” She added: “But I always say, ‘Never say never’. EastEnders is home to me, and I’ve had a fantastic time, so I’d be open to a return for sure.”

Ross Kemp as Grant Mitchell

Grant Mitchell (ROSS KEMP)

Fan favourite Grant Mitchell was last seen in 2016 


BBC/Jack Barnes)

The actor played hardman Grant Mitchell in the 90s alongside Steve McFadden as brother Phil and the late Barbara Windsor as their mum Peggy. Ross exited the soap in 1999, but recently teased a return after making a series of comebacks over the years. When asked by Loose Women’s Carol McGiffin in 2022 if he missed acting he said: “Is it missing me is the question. My age? Rule out nothing.”

Carol replied: “What about EastEnders? If they said, ‘Please come back’, what would you say?” Documentary maker Ross replied: “How much? As long as it was enjoyable, I’d do it.” While spoilers for next week’s episodes may give fans more hope for Grant Mitchell’s return. Grant is mentioned in an episode next week, as Sam makes a big discovery at Aunt Sal’s funeral about her and her siblings.

Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

Mick Carter (DANNY DYER)

Danny has said he doesn’t regret leaving 


BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Danny sensationally quit the soap after playing legendary character Mick from 2013 up until Christmas 2022. “I don’t regret leaving, but it was really emotional for me,” he said of his exit, before cryptically adding that there could be a possibility of a return. “Mick’s exit felt like a real ‘full stop’, but maybe it was a ‘dot, dot, dot.'”

The actor had previously opened up about the moment he thought he had made a mistake for quitting EastEnders. He explained: “I wrapped on EastEnders after nine years, had a very emotional leaving party. And I was doing my speech. And I was thinking: ‘S***, have I made a mistake here? I love everybody here so much. And it’s given me so much, this job.'”

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