EastEnders: Tanya returns for Abi Branning’s death scene

Jo Joyner was seen in tonight's episode as Lorna Fitzgerald left the cast of the BBC1 soap

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The Branning family has been left grief-stricken on tonight’s EastEnders after doctors turned off Abi’s life-support machine.

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Both Jo Joyner (Tanya) and Tanya Franks (Rainie) returned in Friday’s episode in order to mark Lorna Fitzgerald’s final scenes on the BBC1 soap.

In scenes just shown, Max was seen being told by Cora that Tanya had requested that he say goodbye to Abi and then leave because she couldn’t bear to be in the same room as him.

A defeated Max did as he’d been asked before heading to the hospital chapel where he bumped into Tanya. Max’s ex-wife then told him straight that she considered him responsible for what had happened to their daughter, branding him a coward for being on the ledge of the Queen Vic in the first place.

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But after joining her family by Abi’s hospital bedside, Tanya had a last-second change of heart and allowed Max to join the rest of the clan, even if she did shake off his attempt to take her head.

Meanwhile, back on the Square, the regulars at the Queen Vic – knowing that Abi’s breathing tubes were to be removed at 8.32pm – had a minute’s silence in memory of their friend and neighbour.

Actress Lorna Fitzgerald has been a mainstay on EastEnders since 2006 when she joined the cast at the age of 10 years-old. Co-star Jacqueline Jossa – who plays her screen sibling Lauren – is set to exit in the weeks ahead.

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Speaking recently to Radio Times about life after EastEnders, Fitzgerald said: “I’m feeling positive about it. I can’t really remember a time in my life before EastEnders, so everything that comes next is going to feel new and exciting.”

The 21-year-old will be seen next in The Shadow Factory, a new play by Howard Brenton that is set to premiere in February at the Nuffield Southampton Theatre.

You can watch our exclusive Week in Walford review show below. Beneath that, there’s a 60-second rundown of all next week’s drama on EastEnders

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