EastEnders has seemingly put the final nail in the coffin of the Fowlers' marriage as Martin Fowler (James Bye) came face to face with the new love interest of estranged wife Stacey Fowler (Lacey Turner), just as he thought he'd be able to win her back.
Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) has dropped his vendetta against the clan and lifted his threats of violence against Stace for her attack on his dad Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) earlier this year. Consequently, Martin spent much of Friday 22nd November's episode frantically trying, but failing, to contact his missus to explain he lied about being unfaithful to keep her away from Walford in order to protect her.
Calling at the Slaters' to see if Jean had heard from her daughter, Martin was confused to see Stacey and the kids' belongings being bagged up, before a charming fella by the name of Jerome arrived and announced him and Mrs Fowler were an item!
Martin reeled as Jerome (they met on the school run, apparently) revealed he was in the early stages of a new romance with Stacey, but she'd told him all about her husband's 'cheating' and dispatched him to collect her stuff.
Desperately trying to explain why he told Stacey he'd done the dirty and that Ben was trying to kill them until 24 hours ago, Martin's rants were dismissed by a disbelieving Jerome and the Slaters as yet more lies. Things got tasty and Kush Kazemi had to stop his mate punching Jerome before he drove off, inviting Jean to come and visit any time she liked - which only added to Martin's rage.
Now Martin is left with nothing, mistakenly branded a philanderer, while Ben is happier than ever, having decided to turn over a new leaf in light of boyfriend Callum Highway's plan to join the police force.
When is Stacey Fowler coming back?
All this plays into keeping Stacey away from Walford for an extended period of time to accommodate Turner's real-life maternity leave.
The actress gave birth to a daughter, Dusty Violet, in July 2019. Her final scenes were shown in August when Stacey was forced into hiding following the attack on Phil, but Turner filmed a single-episode cameo just weeks after becoming a mum that aired in October in which misguided Martin spun her the fib he'd bedded ex-wife Sonia Fowler.
It is expected that Turner will make a full-time return to the cast by mid-2020, although EastEnders have not officially commented on when she will be back on set.
As and when she does return, the game-changing twists of recent months means she obviously won't be waltzing back into a happy family set-up with Martin and the kids. Will Jerome be back with her? Could they end up getting hitched?
At the rate Martin is spiralling into self-destruction and taking on Ben's bad boy traits, we wouldn't be surprised if he stalked nice guy Jerome on the school run and beat him to a pulp…
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