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EastEnders’ Lauren Branning learns she has secret sister – and then meets her

"You've got a sister."

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Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning talking to Annie Carter as she sits in the arms of Kellie Bright as Linda Carter in EastEnders.
BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) dropped an almighty bombshell onto cousin Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) in tonight’s EastEnders (8th January 2024), revealing that she has a half-sister she never knew about.

Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) had an affair with Lauren’s father, Max (Jake Wood), resulting in the birth of baby Annie back in 2021. Lauren crossed paths with Linda on the day of Dot Branning’s (June Brown) funeral in 2022, but Linda has so far managed to keep her secret from Lauren and the absent Max.

Tonight, after being bailed following her arrest for smuggling drugs, innocent Lauren was reunited with ex Peter Beale (Thomas Law) and their young son Louie. But Linda was spooked to spot Lauren, adding yet another worry to her inner torment after killing Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters).

Louie was desperate to stay in Walford with his dad, and a cosy chat between Lauren and Peter looked to have persuaded her to stick around.

But that all changed when Lauren learned that her cousin Penny (Kitty Castledine) had planted the drugs in her bag. Penny revealed that Peter knew all about it, and Lauren didn’t believe her – until Peter’s awkward reaction confirmed that he did indeed fail to tell her the truth.

Kellie Bright as Linda Carter carrying Annie Carter in EastEnders.
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter carrying Annie Carter in EastEnders. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Furious that Peter was continuing to lie to her, Lauren arranged for her and Louie to visit her mum Tanya Cross (Jo Joyner). While Louie pleaded to stay behind without her, Lauren confided in Sonia and Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) that she felt there was simply nothing left for her in Albert Square.

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Everywhere she looked, she could feel loss, from beloved Grandma Dot to her late younger sister Abi (Lorna Fitzgerald). Sonia had been torn about whether to tell Lauren what she knew about Annie, and Whit urged her to keep quiet.

But seeing Lauren in such distress and so lonely got to Sonia, who flagged down Lauren’s cab before she and Louie could leave. Although she admitted she didn’t know if she was doing the right thing, Sonia blurted out that Lauren has a sister in Walford.

In Tuesday’s episode, Lauren confronts Linda in the crowded Queen Vic about the big secret and it seems the scene forces the struggling landlady to think again about Lauren being in Annie’s life.

Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning embracing Annie Carter in EastEnders.
Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning embracing Annie Carter in EastEnders. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

In what looks set to be a moving scene upstairs in the Queen Vic, Lauren meets her half-sister Annie Carter.

Will Lauren be keen on staying a part of Annie’s life in the wake of losing sister Abi Branning? Plus, will she tell her toxic father Max that he has a secret daughter?

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