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How the return of EastEnders’ iconic Janine Butcher could shake up the Square

Janine is sure to get up to some mischief when she's back...

janine eastenders 2021
Published: Thursday, 17th June 2021 at 9:30 am

By: Laura Denby

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After seven years of absence, one of EastEnders’ most notorious villains is making a comeback as actress Charlie Brooks reprises her popular role as Janine Butcher. She will be heading home with her young daughter Scarlett; and we have already been promised there is “lots of drama in store”.

The iconic character’s impulsive, twisted scheming created some of the soap’s most memorable scenes, and viewers are thrilled to hear she’s on her way back. But what is the catalyst for her welcome return - and what tricks does she have up her sleeve?

There’s a mutual adoration between her and niece Tiffany Butcher-Baker (Maisie Smith), but it remains to be seen whether this last living connection to Walford is the reason for Janine’s homecoming. No doubt there will be other motivations involved; and if her reappearance coincides with her being on the run after yet another scam, viewers won’t be at all surprised.

Perhaps she’s back to build an empire and continue the Butcher legacy. Janine had harboured a dream to take control of The Queen Vic, which was once owned by her late father Frank. Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) has only just reclaimed her place as landlady, and she gave Janine an icy reception the first and only time they exchanged words; so she’ll have a fight on her hands if she still wants the pub.

EastEnders' Janine Butcher
EastEnders' Janine Butcher EastEnders

The soap boasts a long list of strong, fiery women, and pitting Janine against Linda could be just the start in a series of dramatic, epic confrontations. Imagine the bust-ups with the likes of Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) or Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), let alone those who have yet to meet her. Janine’s old feud with Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) could be reignited upon the latter’s release from prison, too.

She could also go head to head with Walford’s resident entrepreneurs Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal). Yes, Phil will initially be wise to Janine’s games; but if offered a lucrative deal he could end up agreeing to an unlikely partnership while she bides her time to pull off an almighty con. Who better to take Phil down a peg or two than the devious Ms Butcher?

And if anyone can wipe the smirk off ruthless Suki’s face it’s Janine, who will surely be a worthy rival with her own cutting comments. One encounter with Janine could move the goalposts and see The Minute Mart owner faced with an adversary she never saw coming.

Janine was once close to Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick), who has been lacking a storyline of late and may therefore find himself at her beck and call yet again. EastEnders should remember her history with long-term characters, as well as significant scenes in her past that still have an impact today.

We expect Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) to be particularly disgruntled given that she framed his niece Alice for murder. If Janine ends up leading Tiffany - who is also Jack’s great-niece - astray, this could result in a heated confrontation between the two.

With Tiff currently feeling lost, her manipulative auntie may not be the best choice of influence. But expanding on their bond would create a fresh new dynamic between the pair now that the younger woman is all grown up.

Janine’s input would also make Dotty Cotton’s (Milly Zero) attempts to corrupt Tiffany look tame, but there could be a meeting of minds here. Targeting rich older men for their money is the kind of outrageous deceit Janine thrives on, after all.

Another double act could be on the horizon between Janine and daughter Scarlett. Whether EastEnders chooses to introduce Janine’s little girl as another mischievous youngster or not, it will be fascinating to watch their relationship on-screen. Scarlett could be the key to Janine’s psyche being explored like never before.

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With several lost years to make up for, there is plenty of room for her to grow while staying true to form. Janine will always be a fan favourite, and her return sparks an exciting new era for EastEnders. She never holds back with her shocking, merciless behaviour and is sure to shake up the Square all over again.

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.
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