EastEnders cast: Who is joining, leaving and returning to the soap?

All the changes to life in Albert Square you need to keep up with.

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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.

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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.

LEAVING

Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami)

EastEnders Kush Kazemi
BBC

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 RadioTimes.com, saying: “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)

EastEnders - Max Branning
BBC

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 RadioTimes.com, 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)

Ian Beale

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.

RETURNING

Kim Fox (Tameka Empson)

Kim (Tameka Empson) on EastEnders

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.

Lucas Johnson (Don Gilet)

Don Gilét plays Bill Viner in Midsomer Murders

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 

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Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.