Kathy Beale is back from the dead as Gillian Taylforth returns to EastEnders

Ian's mum makes a shock reappearance despite supposedly dying over a decade ago

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Kathy Beale has made a shock return to EastEnders, 15 years after supposedly being killed off in a car crash.

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In live scenes just broadcast on BBC1, actress Gillian Taylforth was seen stepping out of a cab on location in the east end of London to share a scene with Steve McFadden, who plays her ex-husband Phil Mitchell. Kathy was seen saying that she wanted to come back to Walford, only for Phil to say that she should keep away.

Taylforth’s comeback comes just three months after Kathy made a cameo for a special Children in Need sketch that saw Ian encounter his mum in a dream.

Talking about her return to EastEnders, Taylforth said: “When [executive producer] Dominic Treadwell-Collins approached me with his plan, I was so shocked I got into my car and burst into tears! Kathy has always been so close to my heart and it’s absolutely wonderful to be returning to the show and reprising the role.”

Treadwell-Collins added: “I have always made my feelings on Kathy Beale and Gillian Taylforth very clear – she is part of EastEnders history, mother to Ian and Ben and one of the most important and iconic television characters on British television. Six months ago, we set ourselves the challenge of bringing Kathy back to the Square in a credible way. And I believe we have succeeded.

“Viewers will have to keep watching to find out exactly why Kathy ‘died’, where she has been all these years and why she now wants to come home to Albert Square. This is only the beginning of one of the most earth-shattering storylines EastEnders has ever seen…”

Adam Woodyatt, who plays Taylforth’s son Ian, added: “I’m thrilled, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve finally got my mum back! I’ve been keeping this secret for so long and now I just can’t wait to work with her again.”

Speaking to Radio Times at the time of the Children in Need sketch, Taylforth did hint at a resurrection for the character: “I have so many viewers asking me, ‘Why don’t you come back?’ And when I tell them that Kathy died off screen, they reply, ‘Well, we don’t know you’re dead then, do we?’ So, you do start to think, ‘Maybe people don’t know she’s dead. Maybe she’s still alive.’

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“I’ve had people write to me with storylines suggesting how Kathy could come back. And I say that they should write to EastEnders. So who knows?”