Your guide to all the comings and goings on EastEnders over the next few months of 2020…
Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden)
Good old Phil is back in Walford after a fleeting – but probably lovely – holiday in Portugal. But his return only spells bad news for Keanu Taylor, who also made his way back to the Square recently, too. Ben Mitchell called his dad when Keanu kidnapped Callum Highway from under his nose in a bid to torture his nemesis. Phil made a hasty return – just in time for the 35th anniversary – to give Keanu what-for.
Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters)
This may be an almighty spoiler, and it’s not officially confirmed, but Walters was spotted filming aboard the party boat of doom as a bearded, bloodied Keanu seemingly comes out of hiding as part of the soap’s 35th anniversary week. Mr Taylor’s fate has dominated storylines since Christmas Day when Ben Mitchell hired Martin Fowler to kill the man who got Phil Mitchell’s missus and daughter up the duff, but Keanu faked his death and is on the run. A handful of locals, including Sharon, Karen and Linda, know the truth, but if he does return it’s bound to cause a stir.
Honey Mitchell (Emma Barton)
Emotionally bruised after her coercive relationship with dastardly dentist Adam Bateman ended, poor old Hon was in the grip of eating disorder bulimia which she had suffered from when she was younger. Ex-husband Billy encouraged her to get help, and she’s currently off screen staying with a relative to regroup and get her head together – in reality, the temporary absence was created to facilitate Barton’s training schedule for 2019’s Strictly Come Dancing. It was worth it – she got to the final!
Kim Fox (Tameka Empson)
Fan favourite Kim has been off screen for a few months while Empson took a temporary break, and returned on Christmas Day 2019 via a video call. “Kim has been working as a tour guide in Scotland,” the actress recently revealed, “but she is coming back…” There’s no word on when she’ll be on the Square in person again, but she is expected to reappear at some point.
Stacey Fowler (Lacey Turner)
Fan favourite Stace is off screen to accommodate actress Lacey Turner’s maternity leave, following the birth of her daughter Dusty Violet in summer 2019. She made a brief return in the autumn but her reunion with husband Martin Fowler proved fraught when he told her he’d been unfaithful – which was a lie to keep her away from bad boy Ben Mitchell and his threats against the family. It is expected Turner will return full-time by mid-2020.
Dot Cotton (June Brown)
EastEnder legend June Brown recently shocked fans when she announced she was leaving the soap for “good”. Speaking in an interview, June – who has played Dot on the show for 35 years – said: “I don’t want a retainer. I’ve left. I’ve left for good.” She added: “I’ve sent myself to Ireland and that’s where she’ll stay. I’ve left EastEnders.” In the last episode she featured in, aired in January, Dot left a voicemail message for Sonia Fowler, saying she had moved to Ireland. However, as far as a a show insider is aware, June hasn’t actually cut her ties with the show and is allowed to return where necessary. A spokesperson said: “We never discuss artists’ contracts, however as far as EastEnders are concerned the door remains open for June, as it always has if the story arises and if June wishes to take part.”
Bex Fowler (Jasmine Armfield)
EastEnders’ boss Jon Sen confirmed Armfield is leaving the cast after six years as the grown-up incarnation of Martin and Sonia Fowler’s daughter. “Jasmine has brought something incredibly special to the role of Bex and we will all miss her – both as a friend and colleague. We wish her the best of luck for the future.” The actress added: “I’ve had such a fantastic time playing Bex and loved being part of EastEnders, but now feels like the right time to try something new.” The troubled teen has had a rough old year, culminating in an attempt to take her own life last summer. Her exit is expected to air in the coming months.
EastEnders’ 35th anniversary week in mid-February 2020 is set to feature a number of “life-changing” twists, including the death of at least one major character. Events aboard a boat party for the Queen Vic regulars take a dramatic turn, with the Mitchells, Beales and Fowlers in the thick of the action. “It could be any of us,” Max Bowden, aka Ben Mitchell, told RadioTimes.com recently. Show bosses are staying tight-lipped…
Peter Beale (Dayle Hudson)
Another Beale kid, another new face – newcomer Hudson takes over from Ben Hardy as Ian’s prodigal son Peter who returns for the 35th anniversary episodes in mid-February. Five years after leaving in the aftermath of his twin sister Lucy’s murder by little brother Bobby, Peter is back from New Zealand for an as-yet unspecified reason…
Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal)
Newcomers the Panesar family line-up is complete with the arrival of manipulative matriarch Suki, played by TV favourite Soap who has also had roles in Corrie, Hollyoaks, Call the Midwife and Waterloo Road. Described as charming but steely, Suki’s relationship with her children, especially estranged daughter Ash, is much more complicated than viewers may first think. We know Suki was recently diagnosed with cancer, so has she moved to the Square to die?
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