EastEnders fans are calling for the return of evil Aunt Babe (Annette Badland) after a classic episode from 2014 was aired featuring the menacing matriarch.
The iconic episode showed how the Carter clan were blown apart by the revelation Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) was the son, not the little brother, of Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) meaning his long-lost sibling was dastardly Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo), the man who raped his beloved wife Linda Carter (Kellie Bright).
Seeing some of the now-departed Carter clan got nostalgic viewers wondering if any could make a comeback. With Mick and Linda out of the Queen Vic once EastEnders returns in September, and Shirley and sister Tina Carter (Luisa Bradshaw-White) in need of a meaty storyline, it’s the perfect time to reunite the relatives and rebuild one of Walford’s best families. Here’s where we last saw the absent Carters…
Babe Smith (Annette Badland)
At first it seemed butter wouldn’t melt in Aunt Babe’s mouth, the woman who had been a mum to the Carter kids when their real mother, her sister Sylvie, did a runner. By the time she left in 2017 battleaxe Babe was one of the most vile villains the Square had ever seen, and her sinister manipulation of the family rooted in lifelong jealousy of Sylvie saw her sent packing by Mick and Shirley, never to be mentioned again. Badland openly admitted she was disappointed with the downbeat end to the character and would be up for a return.
Lee Carter (Danny Hatchard)
Troubled ex-soldier Lee struggled with PTSD and anger issues which ended his marriage to Whitney Dean and drove him to a suicide attempt. He left as a regular in 2017 but was back for a visit last Christmas and stuck around until January 2020, in the midst of mum Linda’s battle with the bottle. Lee’s living on the coast and is now much older and wiser, so it would be interesting to explore how he managed to battle his demons. If indeed, he has…
Nancy Carter (Maddy Hill)
Tomboy Nance left with boyfriend Tamwar Masood (Himesh Patel in his breakout role) in 2016 and the pair got wed off screen in Australia a few years later. Many fans felt Mick and Linda’s lovable ladette daughter was gone too soon and the show never fully explored storylines that were set up and discarded, such as her epilepsy. Hill was an instant star and went on to spend two years in Casualty as Ruby Spark, but now that she’s also left that show, why haven’t EastEnders’ bosses lured her back?
Johnny Carter (Ted Reilly/Sam Strike)
Strike, the original Johnny, made a huge impression early on with the iconic scene in which he tearfully came out to dad Mick. It proved something of a calling card as the actor left just under a year into the role, but Linda’s sensitive son, nicknamed her “little sausage”, was recast in 2016.
Sadly, his replacement Reilly failed to connect with audiences as much as his predecessor and the character had a quiet second tenure, leading to the bog standard ‘black cab’ exit when he left for Manchester in 2018. If they could get Strike back, we’d definitely on board for a comeback – especially as there was a brief flirtation between Johnny and Ben Mitchell…
Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo)
Shirley’s son Deano was initially a cheeky chappy bit of eye candy in his first EastEnders iteration between 2006 and 2008, but the character was brought back in 2014 meaner, darker and twisted by a prison sentence and abandonment issues.
His jealousy of Mick and obsession with Linda led to a horrifying sexual assault, creating a family rift that ended with the brothers trying to kill each other on numerous occasions. Dean denied Linda’s attack claims, but when he later attempted to rape girlfriend Roxy Mitchell she reported him and he was banged up until his trial in 2016. He pleaded not guilty and was acquitted, and Mick’s dad Buster paid him to leave town for good.
A return would certainly shake things up for the Carters, but do we really want to see Mick and Linda torn apart again after the similar Stuart Highway saga? (Don’t forget Dean’s secret kid, Jade, with Shabnam Masood, Kush Kazemi’s ex. She’d be nearly a teenager by now.)
Carly Wicks (Kellie Shirley)
Dean’s sassy sister was a regular between 2006 and 2008 before she left to go travelling, and was last seen in a brief 2012 cameo where she returned to build bridges with mum Shirley and introduced her to grandson Jimmy, named after her late brother. Underused despite much potential, is it time to bring one of the forgotten Carters home? She also had an explosive fling with Martin Fowler back in the day – they were caught getting jiggy in the allotment potting shed! What would Ruby, or Stacey, have to say if she wanted a repeat performance?
Buster Briggs (Karl Howman)
Shirl’s childhood sweetheart, and Mick and Dean’s biological dad, appeared on the scene as the ‘You ain’t my sister’ bombshell was dropped. The dodgy ex-con’s presence only heightened the rivalry between his sons as he bonded with Dean more, but a brief romantic reunion with Shirley was scuppered when he cheated on her with Kathy Beale. They were set to run off together, until Kath wisely dumped him at the last minute and he left alone. He’s barely referenced these days but surely there’s more mileage in having Mick Carter’s father around?
Zsa Zsa Carter (Emer Kenny)
Punky, gobby Zsa Zsa – with her crazy hairdo and outlandish fashion choices – was one of the first extended Carters.
Introduced in 2010’s hip online spin-off E20 as part of a group of trendy Walford youths, she was made a main show regular and hung around for two years before going off on her travels to France.
Fleeing a violent stepfather she tracked down her aunt Shirley for help, and the pair spoke most unkindly about Zsa Zsa’s mum, flaky Tina, years before we got to meet her in the flesh. Once Tina was brought in, it became clear the mother/daughter dynamic was complicated and there was not much love lost.
Give Tina an actual plot of her own instead of putting her on the periphery of Mick and Shirley’s dramas, and bring back Zsa Zsa!