It’s been a strange year and for EastEnders and it has seen the show go on an extended break for the first time in its 35-year history.
And one of the side effects of the trips to Walford being heavily reduced is that the cast has remained more stable than it has done in previous years, although now production is back in full swing that is starting to change with some significant departures and returns on the way.
Jake Wood will depart after 15 years as Max Branning, Davood Ghadami will also be leaving soon and an Albert Square original is set to take a lengthy amount of time off.
Here’s everything you need to know about the EastEnders cast, including who’s coming, who’s going and who’s returning.
Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami)
After six years in Albert Square, Kush Kazemi will leave the show in what bosses are calling a “huge plot.”
An EastEnders spokesperson confirmed the news to: “We can confirm Davood will be leaving EastEnders when his contract comes to an end next year. Davood has been a wonderful addition to EastEnders and we wish him all the best for the future.”
Davood joined the soap in Autumn 2014, and his character has been involved in many dramatic storylines.
And his character Kush will leave the show with a bang, with an insider adding: “Bosses have a huge plot planned, but although Davood was told in January, his departure is not for a very long time yet.”
Max Branning (Jake Wood)
After 15 years in Walford, Max Branning is preparing to leave Albert Square for good. The news broke in September that actor Jake Wood had quit EastEnders to move onto other projects after taking part in some of the most earth-shattering storylines in recent memory.
An EastEnders insider confirmed the news to , revealing: “Sometimes in soapland, big characters have to leave. Bosses are staying tight-lipped about what they have planned for Max but considering he has played a major part in the show for over 15 years they are clearly planning something big and he will not be departing Walford quietly. Everyone will be sad to see Jake go as he is not only a great person to have on set but he’s also a fantastic actor.”
Wood added: “I’ve had 15 wonderful years at EastEnders and have made some truly great friends. I’ll, of course, miss everyone there but I’m grateful they have left the door open for Max and I’m excited to see what the next chapter holds.”
Could his exit lead to us seeing Jake in this years I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here?
Ian Beale (Adam Woodyat)
Thankfully, because we really do love to hate him, Ian is not saying goodbye to the square permanently, but he will be off-screen for a lengthy period of time. And do not expect Ian just to head off on an extended holiday in the back of a cab as the reason for his departure is set to include an “explosive twist”.
Viewers know that Ian currently has money worries and has once again made an enemy out of the also departing Max Branning who has made it clear he wants the money that Ian stole from him back. Not only that but the secret of his involvement in Denny’s demise has been on the verge of coming out for a while now- so look for both of these stories to come to a head and we would not be surprised if either, or both, played a huge part in why Ian says a temporary goodbye to Walford.
Katy Lewis (Simone Lahbib)
Expect Kate’s arrival on Albert Square to ruffle the feathers of the Carter family with Lahbib saying to The Sun: “I’m thrilled to be joining EastEnders. I can’t say too much about who I am playing just yet, but it’s fair to say that she is set to have a lasting impact on the Carters and will test their strength as a family.”
EastEnders fans know that a dark time from the past of Mick (Danny Dyer) has resurfaced in the wake of him learning that Frankie Lewis (Rose Ayling-Ellis) is his daughter as a result of sexual abuse he endured at the hands of Kate when he was just 12 years old. With the storyline currently in full swing and Mick opening up about what happened to some of his nearest and dearest, we cannot imagine Kate having a warm welcome when she turns up.
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…” It was recently revealed that the break was due to her being pregnant with her second child and with the “bouncing baby boy” now born and Empson set to return to filming “very soon”, we should have Kim back on the Square before the end of the year.
Chelsea Fox (Zaraah Abrahams)
Chelsea is on her way back to Walford, but do not expect her to look the same when we see her. Zaraah Abrahams has taken over the role from Tiana Benjamin who played Chelsea from 2006 to 2010 and she is expected to make her debut as the character in the coming weeks.
Never far from the drama, Chelsea had some memorable storylines in her first stint from sleeping with Grant Mitchel (Ross Kemp) to her relationships with both Sean Slater (Robert Kazinsky) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen). That last one should prove to be awkward when she is next seen in Albert Square due to Jack now being in a relationship with her mother, Denise (Diane Parish).
Lucas Johnson (Don Gilet)
Careful Walford, there’s a notorious villain making a comeback!
The villainous pastor was last seen back in 2010 when he was imprisoned for his crimes, but it seems that he has since been released and that can only spell trouble for several residents of Albert Square- Denise in particular.
Gilet is excited to return saying: “I’m thrilled and honoured to be asked to breathe life once again into such a complex, controversial and divisive character but, most importantly, to have another opportunity to work alongside one of the UK’s finest actors, Diane Parish. I feel blessed.”
Look for Lucas to make his return around Christmas.
Wondering about the other soaps? Read more of our cast guides
- Hollyoaks cast: who is leaving, returning to and joining the soap?
- Coronation Street cast: who is leaving, returning to and joining the soap?
- Emmerdale cast: who is leaving, returning to and joining the cast?
- Neighbours cast: Who is joining, returning to and leaving the soap?