EastEnders: Every actor confirmed to be returning to Albert Square

The long-running BBC soap has recently announced a string of high-profile comebacks

Thomas Law, Michelle Collins and Jacqueline Jossa are just some of the iconic EastEnders cast members to return to the soap.
Thomas Law, Michelle Collins and Jacqueline Jossa are just some of the iconic EastEnders cast members to return to the soap.

EastEnders is set to welcome a few familiar faces back to Albert Square, including some that viewers had long thought were dead.

The BBC soap's new showrunner Chris Clenshaw has “big plans to evolve EastEnders creatively in the next few years" and this seems to be by bringing back beloved characters for exciting new storylines.

Here is everything that viewers need to know about the biggest names coming back to Walford.

Charlie Suff | Johnny Carter

The Carter family is bolstering its ranks once more as Mick and Linda's adored son Johnny is set to return to Walford - this time played by a different actor.

Newcomer Charlie Suff will be the third person to take on the role of Johnny, who was first introduced by Sam Strike from 2013 to 2014 before Ted Reilly took over from 2016 until 2018.

Johnny left the Square in 2018 for a new life in Manchester, but is about to reunite with mum Linda back down south.

Suff said of joining the BBC soap: "I’m so delighted to be joining such an iconic programme - EastEnders was always on at my house when I was growing up. Johnny is a complex character who has been through so much, which I can’t wait to explore. I’ve found EastEnders to be the most kind and loving space to work in, and I already feel like one of the family.”

Executive producer Chris Clenshaw added: "I’m delighted to welcome Charlie Suff to the role of Johnny Carter. Although we haven’t seen Johnny on The Square in almost five years, his character remains linked to the show and its most iconic venue, The Queen Vic. Since his short time away, the Carter family dynamics have changed significantly, and it’s safe to say that Johnny will be returning to a very different Walford than the one he left."

Matt Di Angelo | Dean Wicks

Just when you thought EastEnders had made all of its explosive comeback announcements for 2023, Dean Wicks' return was unveiled.

Soap boss Chris Clenshaw has confirmed Matt Di Angelo will be back after seven years away from Walford as the sinister Dean and he is unlikely to be welcomed back with open arms by the other residents.

Dean left Albert Square after raping Linda and Di Angelo has said he thinks his character would have been too scared to return while Mick Carter was still alive.

But now, he's due to come back to help his daughter Jade, who has cystic fibrosis and is being treated at a hospital nearby.

Of course, the question on every fan's lips is whether Dean could be the mystery dead body in the Christmas flash forward...

Di Angelo said: "We know that Linda is involved in the Christmas storyline, and we also know that most people in the Square would like to see the back of Dean. But everyone is going to have to wait to find out if Dean’s the body on The Vic floor because I’m not giving away any clues!"

Alex McSweeney | Graham Foster

Alex McSweeney as Graham Foster in EastEnders. (BBC/YouTube)
Alex McSweeney as Graham Foster in EastEnders. (BBC/YouTube)

Legendary EastEnders villain Graham Foster is set to return to the BBC soap, 18 years after he went to prison for raping Little Mo Slater.

Actor Alex McSweeney will once again play the character who last appeared on the soap in 2005. Fans of the show will remember that Little Mo refused to terminate the pregnancy, which led to the break up of her marriage to Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick). That baby grew up to be Freddie Slater (Bobby Brazier), who returned to Walford in 2022 and believe's Billy to be his father.

That illusion is set to be shattered when Graham returns. Talking to the Mirror, McSweeney said: “I’m grateful to be asked to reprise the role of Graham as I thought it was important for Freddie to be given some answers about his dad.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with the talented Bobby Brazier.”

Angela Wynter | Yolande Trueman

Patrick (Rudolph Walker) and Yolande Trueman (Angela Wynter) - EastEnders. (BBC)
Patrick (Rudolph Walker) and Yolande Trueman (Angela Wynter) - EastEnders. (BBC)

On 30 June the BBC confirmed that EastEnders icon Angela Wynter would also be returning to the show after six years away from Albert Square, and the actor will reprise her role as Yolande Trueman.

Yolande will be reunited with her ex-husband Patrick, who went searching for her earlier this year on the soap, and viewers will soon learn if their reunion was a happy one or not.

Wynter shared in a statement: "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!"

Michelle Collins | Cindy Beale

Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale in EastEnders (BBC)
Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale in EastEnders (BBC)

New details have emerged of Michelle Collins return to EastEnders as Cindy Beale, and she returned on the show's episode on 21 June where she was unmasked as George's missing wife Rose.

She was apparently put into witness protection, and that is the reason why she was unable to return to Albert Square until now.

The iconic villain was famously killed off-screen after being sent to prison. But Cindy won’t be alone in her return to Walford either, because her ex-husband Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) will be coming with her.

Ian returned to the show on 22 June, and a trailer was revealed ahead of the episode by the BBC, in it Cindy and Ian had an emotional heart-to-heart.

Adam Woodyatt | Ian Beale

Ian Beale (ADAM WOODYATT) - (BBC - Photographer: Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)
Adam Woodyat's Ian Beale is returning to the Square. (BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)

Ian previously made a surprise cameo in the soap in 2022, when his character attended Dot Cotton’s funeral and was seen speaking on the phone to someone — presumably Cindy.

This isn't the first time that one of Ian's loved ones has faked their own death, because his mother Kathy (Gillian Taylforth) had previously been presumed dead but was revealed to still be alive in a storyline from the soap in 2015.

Fans of the soap were left confused by the news that Cindy would be returning despite her death years earlier, and even Collins told the Daily Star in 2015 that she believed the character's return would be an “anti-climax” when she was asked about the possibility after Taylforth's return to the soap.

Clearly Collins no longer feels this way. But what she will be returning for in Albert Square is as yet unclear given her and Ian's daughter Lucy was killed on the soap in 2014.

Thomas Law | Peter Beale

Thomas Law as Peter Beale in EastEnders (BBC)
Thomas Law as Peter Beale in EastEnders (BBC)

Lucy's twin Peter has been confirmed to be reappearing in the show, as he made a surprise appearance on the soap on 22 June. Thomas Law reprises the role after leaving in 2010, the character was played by Ben Hardy from 2013 – 2015, and Dayle Hudson from 2020 to 2022.

It was revealed that he had been living in France with Cindy over the past few months, and he will be returning to the square later this year.

Law said of returning: “Over the years, I had hoped for a return to the Square although I never thought it would happen so it’s an absolute delight to be back in Walford as Peter Beale.

"It’s been great to see familiar and new faces, and I can’t wait to explore the character again in the wake of Cindy’s return – it’s an exciting time to return!”

Jacqueline Jossa | Lauren Branning

Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning in EastEnders (BBC).
Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning in EastEnders (BBC).

Fans of the soap were surprised when Jacqueline Jossa unexpectedly returned to the program on 22 June, reprising her role as Lauren Branning.

The character will lock heads with Cindy, who she was shocked to learn was still alive but was particularly appalled by the fact she didn't even return to Walford when her daughter was murdered.

Lauren will return in the coming months with the BBC confirming that her comeback will "stir up trouble for the residents of Walford" now Cindy is back from the dead, and her relationship with Peter needs to be mended.

While details of her return are being kept under wraps, Jossa said of coming back: “I’m really excited! It’s such an amazing time to be back as there is so much buzz around EastEnders at the moment, and I’ve been watching and loving it like a fan. Walford holds such a special place in my heart, so it really does feel like coming home.”

Lucy Benjamin | Lisa Fowler

EastEnders,20-07-2023,6736,Keanu Taylor (DANNY WALTERS);Lisa Fowler (LUCY BENJAMIN),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 11TH JULY 2023***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Lucy Benjamin is back as Lisa Fowler on EastEnders. (BBC)

On Wednesday, 24 May the BBC announced that Lisa Fowler would be returning to the soap, with Lucy Benjamin set to reprise her role.

Benjamin’s return is being described as a “short stint” and her episodes are airing now.

Read more: EastEnders spoilers - Lola dies in tragic scenes, the Knight family arrives in the Square

The character was last seen on the show in 2020 when she fled with her daughter Louise and her granddaughter Peggy, and she will be coming back with Peggy much to the surprise of the little girl’s father Keanu Taylor.

Kim Medcalf | Sam Mitchell

EastEnders,11-04-2023,6678,Sam Mitchell (KIM MEDCALF),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 4TH APRIL 2023***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Kim Medcalf as Sam Mitchell in EastEnders (BBC).

Kim Medcalf's Sam Mitchell will come back to the square once again after she left the show in April following a brief stint on the soap, previously it'd been 17 years since the actor had been on the show.

Sam will make a reappearance in Walford later this year, and according to a report from Metro the character won't be back for "most of the summer." An official return date has not yet been confirmed.

Linda Henry | Shirley Carter

EastEnders - January-March 2022,07-03-2022,EastEnders - January-March 2022 - 6446,6446,Shirley Carter (LINDA HENRY),Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on Tuesday 01/03/2022 - Picture shows: Shirley Carter (LINDA HENRY) ***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 1ST MARCH 2022***,BBC,Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Linda Henry as Shirley Carter in EastEnders (BBC).

According to a report from Metro, fans can also expect Linda Henry to return to the show as Shirley Carter, after the character's exit in 2022.

Though no date has yet been revealed for the character, the publication reported that Shirley would make a reappearance in future.

Rita Simons | Roxy Mitchell

She may not be the only character to make a surprise comeback, as Rita Simons recently teased that her character Roxy Mitchell may not be dead after she recently made a cameo via a hallucination.

Roxy appeared during a family therapy session for her Amy (Ellie Dadd) telling her daughter to not give up during her mental health struggles.

Watch: EastEnders star Rita Simons says her character may not be dead.

Desperate measures?

EastEnders' rush of returning faces comes as the future of soaps no longer appears as secure as they once were. Beloved Australian show Neighbours faced cancellation in March 2022 because of falling viewership and rising costs.

In the end, the show was picked up by Amazon Freevee in November 2022, but it sparked fears that the longevity of soaps is no longer a given, and their legacy also may not be enough to draw in the same amount of viewership that it once had.

EastEnders, though it has remained popular on BBC iPlayer has seen ratings drop for linear TV viewership in recent years.

Neighbours finale. (Fremantle/Channel 5)
Kylie Minogue returned for the Neighbours finale when the show was first cancelled. (Fremantle/Channel 5)

In October 2021, for example, Digital Spy reported that the show drew in 4.09 million viewers for its most-viewed episode, with Coronation Street receiving 5.70 million, and Emmerdale 4.96 million at the time.

So the decision to bring back several iconic characters in EastEnders may have been taken in a bid to address this issue.

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In August 2022, BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore said at the Edinburgh International TV Festival that the soap’s future is secure despite its dip in ratings, and confirmed that new showrunner Chris Clenshaw has “big plans to evolve EastEnders creatively in the next few years."

Moore added: "Of course, we are all seeing the way audiences are shifting – young audiences are shifting more than any other and they are looking at different titles across different platforms, so we would be mad not to see those shifts and those changing tastes and those changing attitudes.

"But do I think that soap will still play a part in the ecology of television in an on-demand and iPlayer world for some time? Absolutely. I think it's really, really important."

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings on BBC One.