EastEnders: who’s leaving and who’s returning? All the latest cast changes

Your guide to the comings and goings in Walford

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There are big changes ahead in EastEnders with some cast members on their way out and very familiar faces set to reappear. So who’s going and when? And what can we expect from those making a comeback? Here’s your guide to   all the exits and entrances…

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LEAVING

Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell

The Mitchell sisters are set to exit next year, with show bosses planning plenty of surprises in the run-up to their joint departure. After news broke that first Samantha Womack and then screen sibling Rita Simons would both be waving goodbye to the BBC1 soap, a show insider commented:

“Bosses desperately wanted to keep the news of their departures a secret, but once the news about Samantha leaked out, it was only a matter of time before people worked out Rita would be going too. 

“It’s a shame as it would have been a great surprise for the audience but there are still lots of twists to come before they leave our screens.’

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Pam and Les Coker

Funeral director Les and florist wife Pam are both on their way out later this year, with a storyline tied to Les’s cross-dressing secret life as his alter-ego Christine. A spokesperson said recentlyWe can confirm that Roger Sloman and Lin Blakely will be leaving EastEnders later this year. They have been a pleasure to work with and we wish them all the best for the future.”

A source added: “Pam and Les have been a big part of the show over the past few months and with their current storyline, bosses felt that it was the right time for their characters to leave the Square. There is still plenty more drama to come from the Cokers before they leave Walford.”

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Linda Carter (temporarily)

Actress Kellie Bright is set to take maternity leave, but don’t expect Queen Vic landlady Linda Carter to be away for long. Speaking recently to RadioTimes.com about the possibility of Mick and Linda splitting up, Bright said:

“I hope not. But I’m at the mercy of the writers and a new boss. So who knows? I can’t yet reveal when I’ll be back, but I won’t be gone for long. So Mick will be fine.”

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Sonia Fowler (temporarily)

Actress Natalie Cassidy this week welcomed the latest addition to her family: daughter Joanie Elizabeth. All of this means, of course, that Sonia will be leaving our screens soon – but what will her exit mean for her relationship with Tina?

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Lee Carter

Actor Danny-Boy Hatchard is on his way out of E20, with a BBC source commenting recently to the Sun: “This was a tough decision but sometimes to create big storylines characters need to come and go.

“Danny-Boy is a dedicated actor and a popular cast member, and as part of the Carter family, no one should rule out a return.”

An EastEnders spokesman said: “Danny-Boy has been a great addition to the cast and we wish him all the best for the future.”

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Buster Briggs

Karl Howman has already filmed his final scenes, although bosses are remaining tight lipped as to how Buster exits. Will his affair with Kathy be exposed? Could Shirley discover that she’s been betrayed by both her lover and her friend?

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RETURNING

Colin Russell

Colin Russell, played by Lord Michael Cashman, is set to make a brief return to the Square. He first appeared in the show in 1986 and was involved in the first gay kiss on British primetime television in 1989.

Acknowledging how influential his role in EastEnders had been in his life, Lord Ashman said recently: “It was a real joy, indeed a privilege, to return to the place where 30 years ago I started an amazing journey. A journey which incredibly helped to change the country, and certainly its attitude to lesbian gay and bisexual people.”

Since leaving the soap in 1989, he has been heavily involved in promoting LGBT rights and fighting discrimination. He is a founder of the charity Stonewall and now a Labour peer.

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Grant Mitchell

Ross Kemp will be back (again!) next week for a big Mitchell-centred storyline that will see Grant coming to Phil’s aid after Ben and Jay are both kidnapped by Paul’s killers. Can Grant ensure that the pair come to no harm? And will he find out that Mark Fowler Jr is really his son?

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Ryan Malloy

Bad boy Ryan is reportedly going to reach out to his sister Whitney after finding out that her fiancé Lee cheated with Abi. A source recently said of actor Neil McDermott’s latest comeback: 

“Although Ryan will only be appearing in a couple of episodes it’s fair to say that when he’s around drama usually follows.”

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Cora Cross

Cora was last seen in 2015 when she found a place in sheltered housing away from the Square following a period of homelessness. But back in December, fans were assured that Cora would be back in Walford in late 2016…

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Max Branning

Max is now, of course, a free man after being released from prison following his wrongful incarceration for the murder of Lucy Beale. And actor Jake Wood is set to make a full-time return from September. Speaking about what the character could be getting up to, Wood said: “Hopefully Max will create some havoc. I’d like to see him go after Ian for setting him up.” It looks like Max will definitely have revenge in mind…

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