EastEnders: who is James Willmott-Brown?

Your handy guide to the Walford bad guy and his past crimes

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Businessman and former Dagmar wine bar owner James Willmott-Brown (William Boyde) has made a surprise return to EastEnders – 25 years after he last appeared in Albert Square.

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One of the soap’s original villains, the smooth-talking but infamous Willmott-Brown is best remembered for the 1988 storyline that saw him rape employee Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth), a crime for which he was eventually imprisoned for three years.

The sex attack had massive repercussions for the residents of Walford, with Queen Vic landlord Den Watts getting his Mob contacts to burn down the Dagmar as an act of revenge, only to then be sent to prison himself after taking the rap for the actions of the Firm.

Kathy was also forced to relive her terror at Willmott-Brown’s trial, where the posh ex-army officer attempting to argue that what had happened between them was consensual while also trying to portray Kathy’s husband Pete as being a violent abuser.

EastEnders fans thought they’d seen the last of Willmott-Brown when he started his jail sentence in April 1989.

But the evildoer made a brief return in 1992 when – following his release – he returned to the scene of his crime, even going so far as to declare his undying love for Kathy in a series of creepy cassette tapes.

An incensed Pete then tried to coerce Willmott-Brown into leaving town forever – but his actions merely resulted in the deluded rapist slapping an injunction on Kathy’s husband.

Events then came to a head when both Kathy and Pete confronted Willmott-Brown at his house, where the rotter finally apologised for his actions.

With Kathy having taken back the power, Willmott-Brown finally made his exit, although a subsequent 1994 plotline brought us fresh news as to his circumstances.

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With Kathy experiencing bad dreams about her past trauma, then-boyfriend Phil ended up tracking down Willmott-Brown’s wife, who revealed that he was back in prison, having gone on to rape another woman.

Nothing had been heard about his whereabouts until tonight, when Kathy’s predatory enemy made his comeback, bringing with him the revelations that Fi, Josh and Max’s former cellmate Luke are all his offspring.

And that he has every intention of destroying the Square and maybe even Kathy herself…

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below

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