EastEnders: who’s joining, who’s leaving and who’s returning to the cast?

From Hunter Owen to Johnny Carter by way of an influx of Slaters

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January 2018 has already seen some pretty seismic ructions shake EastEnders, what with Mel’s comeback, Ben’s departure and the debut of Ciara Maguire. But there are further changes still to come…

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JOINING

Charlie Winter – Hunter Owen
First came Mel’s return, next will come the debut of her and Steve Owen’s son Hunter, played by Charlie Winter. Said a show spokesperson:

“Fifteen year-old Hunter Owen is set to step foot in his dad’s old stomping ground but having never known his father, just what does he know about Steve Owen?

“Charming and charismatic, Hunter appears to take his father’s good traits but will he share his dark side too?”

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LEAVING

Ted Reilly – Johnny Carter
We saw earlier this week that Johnny has been offered a training contract to become a solicitor in Manchester, news that paves the way for actor Ted Reilly’s exit from EastEnders.

The announcement that the star was leaving broke in December last year, with Reilly commenting on Twitter:

“It was a really tough decision to leave, but at this stage in my career, it’s very important to keep challenged and to experience new things.

“I’ll miss the amazing people on the Square, especially my Carter clan!”

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RETURNING

Jessie Wallace – Kat Moon
Kat was last seen fighting to survive in EastEnders spin-off Redwater, only for the Ireland-set drama to be cancelled before it could resolve the cliffhanger.

But it seems as though Kat has survived, with Jessie Wallace having recently revealed that she’s back filming on EastEnders. Though – shock horror! – Kat won’t be returning with husband Alfie (Shane Richie).

Speaking about her return, Jessie Wallace said recently: “I am thrilled to be returning to EastEnders next year and knowing what John Yorke has in store for the Slaters is incredibly exciting. I love Kat and Walford dearly and I cannot wait to get started – watch out Walford Kat’s coming home.”

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Laila Morse – Mo Slater
And Kat won’t be alone. Joining her will be Big Mo and Jean Slater (more about Jean below). Speaking about the return of his trio of Walford women, show boss John Yorke said:

“The Slaters are one of the all-time great families in EastEnders and Albert Square has never felt quite the same since they scattered to different ends of the country, and in some cases beyond.

“It has been a real joy to find a way to bring them back together and we’re incredibly excited about where we are taking them next. It won’t just be familiar Slaters either as there are a couple of twists and characters to add fresh spice to an iconic creation.”

Added Laila Morse: “I’m really excited to be coming back. It’s the one question I’m constantly asked. I can’t wait to see everyone and get stuck back into life in Walford.”

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Gillian Wright – Jean Slater
Finally, there’s also a comeback for Stacey’s mum Jean, who looks like she’ll have a huge task on her hands sorting out the problems in her daughter’s marriage: “I have always adored working alongside Lacey, Jessie and Laila and I am looking forward to being reacquainted with everyone at EastEnders again,” actress Gillian Wright said.

Oh – and let’s not forget – there’s a new, currently unnamed member of the Slater clan set to make their debut too…

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

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And visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.