MacDonald had played the role of Zammo on the BBC series from 1982 to 1987. The character struggled with drug addiction, marking a landmark storyline that raised awareness of addiction’s impact; he even led the cast in the anti-drug charity single “Just Say No”, a cover of a La Toya Jackson song, which became a top ten hit.
He also made cameo appearances on Birds of a Feather, The Bill and a TV version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
A source told The Sun: “EastEnders have made some surprise signings in the past and this is up there. Nobody saw this coming but it’s a great nostalgia trip for viewers.”
The actor will appear in two episodes of the BBC One soap this summer, playing a bus driver who competes against Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter in a radio competition in order to win gig tickets.
MacDonald had retired from television and now runs a locksmiths and key-cutting business. He initially became a boxer, but a car crash forced him to withdraw from the sport.
He said in a statement: “I am absolutely chuffed to bits and so excited to be briefly joining the cast of EastEnders. I can’t say too much yet but watch this space. Top banana!”
“My agent wants me to drop the shop. She says I should try and push myself as an actor and not a locksmith. But I’m quite happy to say I’m a locksmith, ’cos that’s what pays the mortgage!”