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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We’re never too far away from the latest high-profile addition or departure from the EastEnders cast, and there’s no shortage of action lined up for 2021.

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The tragic boat accident that featured in the 35th-anniversary storyline is still having a huge effect on the residents of Albert Square, almost a year on from the faetful night – and it seems likely the fallout will continue for some time.

As revenge, devastation and heartbreak tears through Walford, we have everything you need to know about the comings, goings and returnees on EastEnders.

Read on for your essential guide to the EastEnders cast.

JOINING

Zack Hudson (James Farrar)

James Farrar
BBC

The latest actor to join the cast is James Farrar, who will make his debut on the Square in March – starring as charismatic troublemaker Zack Hudson. Described as a lone wolf who lives life in the fast lane, Zack had a difficult childhood that has subsequently prevented him from getting too attached to anyone – but he is a long-time ladies man who will be sure to gain some attention when he arrives in Walford.

On his casting, Farrar said: “I’m thrilled to be joining EastEnders. As a born and bred Londoner myself, I can’t wait to bring my experience of a place I love and know to such a well-respected long-running show, with such iconic characters. Zack certainly has a very complicated past and there is a real depth to him that I can’t wait to explore.”

And Exec Producer Jon Sen added: “James is a wonderful addition to the EastEnders cast, playing the charming rogue Zack Hudson. We are all excited to see James bring the character to life and there’s plenty of drama in store for him – trouble is always just around the corner…”

Brian Conley (Terry Cant)

Brian Conley EastEnders

Things are about to get really interesting for Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) as her long-discussed but never seen father is about to make his way to Walford – and he will be played by national treasure Brian Conley! Whether the two would get along remains to be seen, but BRian is excited to get started in his new role.

“As you can imagine being a Londoner and now being part of EastEnders is such an incredible moment for me. I know for sure my dad’s looking down from above and saying ‘Good on yer son!’ It was always his favourite programme. So, in so many ways, it really is an honour to be part of such an iconic show and to be working with an incredibly talented team on camera and off. I cannot wait to order my first pint at The Queen Vic.”

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.”

Big Mo (Laila Morse)

big mo eastenders

After 20 years, on and off, as a fixture of Albert Square, Big Mo will be waving goodbye to Walford soon. But while it is sad that the actress will be off, there is every chance that she could be back at some point in the future with an EastEnders spokesperson telling us here at RadioTimes.com that “just like many occasions before, Big Mo will be departing Walford. But as always, she’ll no doubt be back in the not too distant future.” So hopefully a “see you soon” rather than a permanent “goodbye” then.

RETURNING

Maddy Hill (Nancy Carter)

Maddy Hill plays Nancy Carter in EastEnders
BBC

The Carter family are about to have a reunion! Having last appeared in 2016, Maddy Hill is reprising her role as Nancy with the character making a surprise return from New Zealand. Why she is back remains a mystery, but she will certainly have a lot to catch up on with all that has been happening with the Carter clan lately!

Speaking of her return, Hill said: “I’m so excited to be coming back and reconnecting with all the hilarious, warm, talented cast and crew and meeting some lovely new faces. I absolutely loved playing Nancy and have often wondered what she’s up to, so feel very grateful to be able to rediscover her 5 years on!”

Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt)

Ian Beale

Thankfully, because we really do love to hate him, Ian has not said goodbye to the square permanently, but he will be off-screen for a lengthy period of time after surviving the poisoning plot and skulking away from Walford on the tube.

Adam’s extended break coincides with him taking up a role in the theatre, when they eventually reopen, where he is starring in the Peter James story, Looking Good Dead. The show is meant to have 23 performances around the country, but it remains to be seen when they will be able to get going.

Wondering about the other soaps? Read more of our cast guides 

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