EastEnders' Chris Clenshaw teases return of iconic characters for 40th anniversary celebrations

Samantha Womack and Rita Simons in an EastEnders scene.
-Credit: (Image: BBC/Jack Barnes)

EastEnders' head honcho Chris Clenshaw has teased fans with the possibility of some legendary characters making a grand return to Albert Square for the show's monumental 40th anniversary celebrations next year.

"The 40th has been in the works for quite some time," he revealed, suggesting that sharp viewers might have already caught "Easter egg" clues in previous episodes. He also mentioned: "The nostalgic element means a lot."

Devotees of the soap are abuzz with speculation that Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell could make an astonishing return from the dead after Cindy Beale's unexpected reappearance last May, despite her character being killed off in '98. Michelle Collins came back as Cindy, who was believed to have died from complications during childbirth, a fact disclosed to her former husband, Ian Beale.

The Mitchell sisters met their grim fate on Ronnie's wedding day when Samantha Womack's character jumped into a pool to save Roxy (Rita Simons), but was pulled under by her wedding dress, leading to their heartbreaking deaths.



Cast your mind back to when 'Dirty' Den (Leslie Grantham) shocked everyone with his dramatic comeback in 2003, a whopping 14 years after his supposed murder. With several other fan favourites still out there, the stage is set for potentially thrilling returns.

Den Watts' second wife, Chrissie Watts, portrayed by Tracy-Ann Oberman, famously finished him off in the Queen Vic back in 2005 during the show's 20th anniversary episodes. Tracy has been dropping hints that we might see her character return to Albert Square, noting that Chrissie "must be due for parole at any point now" after being locked up in 2006.

"She's served longer than most actual murdering prisoners and if she'd had a better lawyer, she would have got mitigating circumstances," Tracy has previously said.

Chris teases that the soap "may" bring back familiar faces, adding: "It's not just because of the lovely reaction. It all depends on the story and where the characters are.

"As we head towards our 40th year, it is the history of the show. I think the nostalgic element means a lot. But it has to come from character, it has to come from story."

The upcoming plot details remain under wraps, but it's expected to pick up from this year's Christmas storyline, which usually promises high drama. Last Christmas, viewers were gripped by the mystery of The Six murder suspects, with the big reveal leaving everyone on tenterhooks about who was responsible for what crime.

In a shocking twist, it turned out Linda Carter (played by Kellie Bright) was the one who ended Keanu Taylor's (Danny Walters) life, using a meat thermometer as the deadly weapon.

"Christmas is well underway," Chris, who was spilling the beans at the TRIC Awards where Eastenders received a nomination for Best Soap, revealed. "In the story office there is a board and it all connects. I compare it to a tapestry board, everything has to fit together. We've got the new Mitchells coming in that will stir some trouble up. And as we head through into the autumn and the end of the year, we've got quite a few treats coming up."