EastEnders is bringing back Nancy Carter, absent offspring of Mick Carter and Linda Carter, which is welcome news for many reasons.
Not only does it boost the ranks of the depleted Carter clan after Tina’s grisly exit, it also gives the soap a second chance to do right by a character so underused she never fulfilled her potential. We all loved Nancy, but why was she denied a juicy storyline of her own?
The tracksuit-wearing tomboy arrived in EastEnders with the rest of the Carters in 2013, with Maddy Hill standing out as an instant star discovery. The engaging actress was funny, quirky and warm, and won a string of best newcomer gongs, including the National TV and British Soap Awards.
With initial excitement focusing on Danny Dyer’s casting as Mick, new king of the Queen Vic, the Carter kids quickly clicked with the audience. But while Johnny Carter got an emotional coming out scene and Lee Carter’s depression highlighted male mental health, daughter Nancy was somewhat overshadowed.
Living with epilepsy and accidentally injuring little brother Ollie were two of her more memorable moments that were never fully explored, and Hill’s charisma powered her alter ego along despite the fact that, by the end of her too-short two-year tenure, she had very little to do other than support other people’s plots.
Nancy left to travel the world with geeky lover Tamwar Masood in 2016 and the pair married off screen. Except now Nancy is returning to EastEnders alone, so what’s happened to her hubby?
Himesh Patel’s blossoming movie career (he starred in Richard Curtis musical comedy Yesterday and Christopher Nolan head-scratcher Tenet) means he’s unlikely to follow his fictional wife back to Walford, so we assume Nancy and Tam are finished. But why? Did she cheat? Did he cheat? Is she running away from a bad decision that destroyed her marriage?
If she’s coming back hoping to be scooped up by her family she’d best prepare herself as they’ve got enough on their plate – mum and dad have endured a traumatic year in which Mick faced up to childhood sexual abuse, and alcoholic Linda fell off the waggon and into bed with Max Branning.
Now they’re worried about the whereabouts of Nancy’s Auntie Tina, who has vanished after being framed for attacking Ian Beale. How long until they discover sinister solicitor Gray Atkins strangled her to death and dumped her body (we still don’t know where) when she worked out he’d killed his late wife Chantelle?
Perhaps Nancy comes home with news about Teen? Or better still, she’ll end up being the one to expose Gray and get justice, earning her the iconic crusader status she deserves? There’s an outlandish fan theory that Tina could still be alive, and she unwrapped herself from that stripy shower curtain and made a run for it – did she contact her niece and tell her everything, and both women are secretly plotting to bring down Gray?
As well as some drama, we’re hoping Nancy also brings a bit of much-needed light to the shade EastEnders is currently mired in. The soap is on good form with some compelling plots, but is short on laughs. Even Kim Fox is too embroiled in Lucas’s return to provide the chuckles – Nancy is naturally hilarious, and it would be nice to see somebody smiling amidst all the antics of serial killers and victims with vengeful agendas.
Ms Carter will need a mate to knock about with, and the brilliant Lola is crying out for a girly friend. She’s another under-utilised member of the cast, subjected to picking up Lexi from school/Ben’s house, or begging for more shifts in the hairdressers. In fact we’re seeing Nancy as leader of an entire gobby girl gang, throwing Tiff, Bernie, Dotty and Iqra into the mix – come to think they’re all at a bit of a loose end…
Plus, Nancy’s got a long-lost sister in the shape of Frankie Lewis, the product of her dad’s childhood sexual assault. Will the new siblings be mates or see each other as a threat?
What about a love interest? To be honest, we’d like to get to know Nancy a bit more before she’s partnered up again. Maybe she could run her own business? Stick her on the fruit and veg stall. Or make her a bouncer at Ruby’s night club. Just please give her something exciting to do…