EastEnders spoilers: Matt Di Angelo on Dean's bitter reunion with Shirley

The arrival of Dean at the Queen Vic may not go to plan, but actor Matt Di Angelo is happy to be back among old friends in Walford

EastEnders spoilers: Matt Di Angelo on Dean's bitter reunion with Shirley
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Shirley Carter is to get a shock next week when estranged son Dean visits the Queen Vic. But it’s a reunion that doesn’t exactly go well.

“He comes to the pub to have a quick pint with his granddad, under the illusion that there wouldn’t be anyone else in the family there,” says actor Matt Di Angelo. “It’s a bit stupid, but he is slightly naïve. So he’s on the back foot when he comes face to face with Shirley and responds childishly by ignoring her. But she keeps pushing him until he eventually says something.”

In emotive scenes, Dean will be seen cutting into his mum and humiliating her in front of a packed pub by reeling off his grievances. “Everything he says is the truth, which sometimes is the most upsetting thing,” Di Angelo continues. “He talks about how she abandoned her son when he was very sick and then didn’t turn up to his funeral. He’s angry about that.”

Long-term viewers will remember that Dean’s half brother Jimbo died of cystic fibrosis prior to Shirley appearing on the soap and that Dean’s last appearance in 2008 saw him violently rail against his mum for his own abandonment as a child. It’s a volatile relationship that seems beyond repair, but does Di Angelo think it can be salvaged?

“I don’t think he hates her. He’s angry and he resents her a lot, but I don’t think you can ever really hate your mum. At the end of the day, you grew inside her! So if Shirley apologises for the things she’s done and tries to make amends then maybe it can be repaired.”

In his years away, Di Angelo has appeared in such BBC dramas as Hustle, Casualty and Death in Paradise as well as a production of Loot at London’s Tricycle Theatre. So how much has changed on the set of the EastEnders during that time?

“I haven’t seen some people for seven years, so it was really enjoyable to see the old friends and faces. I don’t think I was as badly behaved as Dean was the last time I was here, so I don’t have to patch things up with anyone,” he says. “It was like an apprenticeship when I was here originally – it was one of my first acting jobs, I was 18-years-old and I’m now turning 27.”

And how easy is it to return to return to the character? “Well, when you go through the audition process at EastEnders, they do use the real you. So you’re only two or three steps away from yourself. So Dean was always going to be the easiest character to return to.”

Of course, one of the most significant changes to hit Albert Square in recent months is the expansion of Shirley’s on-screen family, who took over at the Queen Vic during Christmas 2013. Indeed, Dean gets a welcoming punch in the face from landlord Mick following that initial heated encounter with Shirley. So what’s it been like working with the rest of the Carter clan?

“They’re all a good laugh. I’m working a lot with Luisa Bradshaw-White, who plays Tina, at the moment. And I’m really enjoying that. Timothy West is a legend. And Danny Dyer.”

And as far as romance for Dean is concerned, Di Angelo has very definite ideas about who his character should get involved with: “It would be good if Dean and Stacey spent more time together. I’m a very big fan of Lacey Turner. Her character is one I know very well from last time I was here.  So Stacey. Or Bianca! I think Dean would have a crush on her!”