Could a fan favourite character be returning to The Walking Dead?

It looks like the zombie apocalypse drama may be welcoming back an old cast member. Potential SPOILERS below

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Zombie apocalypse series The Walking Dead returns to British screens tonight (it airs at 9.00pm on FOX in the UK) – and those watching until after the credits may see the welcome return of an old face.

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Yes, the episode showed the surprise return of fan-favourite character Morgan Jones (played by British actor and Line of Duty star Lennie James, below), who appeared in the 2010 series pilot alongside This Life actor Andrew Lincoln (and again in series three for a guest appearance).

It had already been confirmed by The Walking Dead programme-makers that James would return for future episodes, but this is much earlier than many anticipated. In the new scene (see below), James’ character seems hot on the heels of the main cast – but what’s he doing back? We may have the answer.

During a conversation with a producer on an unrelated production that James is starring in, it was commented: “After this he’s taking over the lead of The Walking dead.”

“We’re lucky to have him, because America have realised how great he is.”

Intriguing – and when asked about any future involvement in the show, James himself suggested he had a larger role to play in the series’ future.

He said: “I can’t talk about it. Come Sunday everybody will get a sense of what’s about to happen, because it starts in America on Sunday, but I can’t really… I’m not allowed.”

Cryptic indeed – so is James taking over the lead? In the dangerous world of The Walking Dead there’s a high fatality rate, so it’s possible that Andrew Lincoln’s lead character Rick Grimes could be on the way out – but given that new contracts were signed only last year for all series regulars, it seems a bit unlikely.

Alternatively, it’s also possible that James will instead take centre stage in a planned spin-off series, set to air in 2015, though a preliminary character list doesn’t include his part. This could be misdirection, or it could just be that he’s genuinely not involved.

Or maybe he’s just taking on a slightly larger part in the main series – a regular or recurring role which will see him appear much more often in the apocalyptic drama.

Whatever happens, it seems James is just happy to be involved. He said: “They’ve been very good to me, and very good for me in the way that they’ve written for me so far.

“Both kind of major episodes I’ve done have just been me and Andy [Lincoln] locked in a room chatting s**t, and it’s fun. It’s a good place to go and work.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4GAs9TJVjM

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The Walking Dead returns to FOX tonight at 9:00pm