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Who is leaving EastEnders, and who is returning? Exits, comebacks and new arrivals revealed

Some EastEnders cast members are confirmed to be leaving the BBC soap later this year, with some having already left while there's also some returns on the cards too

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EastEnders is back on track, and has been pulling out all the stops in 2023 with flashforwards, shocking deaths and huge returns – and there’s more to come.

We’ve had some iconic characters make a comeback to Walford in recent months, including one we never saw coming. There’s been some new arrivals too who have had a huge impact, while the usual secrets and betrayals are waiting to boil over.

But as we head towards Christmas Day on the soap, with big plots including the café fire and the Christmas Day murder, some familiar faces might not be in the Square. So who is leaving the Square for good, and who is returning amid big twists and turns?
EastEnders is waving goodbye to some Walford favourites

EastEnders is waving goodbye to some Walford favourites 


BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Who’s leaving EastEnders, and who’s already left this year?

It’s been revealed that Rocky AKA Tom Cotton will leave the BBC soap soon, with actor Brian Conley apparently quitting the role. It’s not clear how Brian will leave the role and when, but he’s feared to be killed off after the fire, and amid the Christmas murder.

Peter Beale and Bobby Beale also sparked fears they are leaving and might die, after being injured in the fire. Another confirmed exit is that of Whitney Dean, played by actress Shona McGarty.

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Shona has been on the BBC soap for 15 years, but will leave early next year. Karen Taylor is also leaving the show after actress Lorraine Stanley was sadly written out of the soap. It’s feared she might be killed off this year, while no details have been given.

Freddie Slater is currently on a temporary break from the show too, with actor Bobby Brazier taking on Strictly Come Dancing this year. Other characters have left this year already including Lola Pearce.

Who’s returning to EastEnders in 2023?

It's not yet known if anyone is heading back to the Square

It’s not yet known if anyone is heading back to the Square 


BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Characters teased to be coming back include Louise Mitchell, Little Mo Slater and Zoe Slater, while Sam Mitchell is due back from Spain at some point, and then there’s Shirley Carter too. Sam is definitely on her way back soon, and now an announcement has confirmed Jacqueline Jossa is reprising her role as Lauren Branning.

Joining Lauren in Walford is her cousin and former character Penny Branning. Recently returning, Dean Wicks is also back in Walford.

Characters that have returned this year, although some quite briefly, include Lisa Fowler, Peggy Mitchell Jr, Lola’s mother Emma, Freddie Slater, Graham Foster, Elaine Peacock, Yolande Trueman and then Cindy, Ian and Peter Beale. There’s also been hints of a return for Linda Carter’s rapist Dean Wicks and Mick Carter.

New arrivals

Recent new arrivals in Walford include baby Charli, the daughter of Lily Slater and Ricky Mitchell. A newcomer named Nadine has featured in scenes with Jay Brown, while there could be other newbies on the way. Newcomers this year include Theo Hawthorne and someone from Eve Unwin’s past named Caz.

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