An old name with a new face will be arriving in Walford in 2020, with EastEnders confirming that Dayle Hudson will become the seventh actor to play Peter Beale.
But with Hudson replacing Ben Hardy – who has gone on to success in Hollywood and can currently be seen in Michael Bay’s new Netflix movie 6 Underground – there’s one question on the lips of EastEnders fans…
When Peter returns, will Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) be joining him?
Peter and Lauren have had a long and tumultuous relationship on the soap, going back to when Peter was played by Thomas Law and Lauren was played by Madeline Duggan (from 2006 to 2010). The characters are parents to a son, Louie, who is now four years old.
Peter previously left EastEnders in the aftermath of the ‘Who Killed Lucy’ storyline – having discovered that his twin Lucy (Hetti Bywater) was killed by younger half-brother Bobby (then played by Eliot Carrington), a tormented Peter decided to leave Walford and join his half-brother, Steven, for a new a life in New Zealand with fiancé Lauren in tow.
Jacqueline Jossa returned to EastEnders in 2016, but Ben Hardy – who was the the current Peter – did not, necessitating a break-up between Peter and Lauren. (In fact, she was briefly involved with Aaron Sidwell’s Steven Beale.)
But following Jossa’s most recent departure from Albert Square last year, it was established off-screen that Lauren had returned to New Zealand, hinting at a possible reunion between her and Peter.
However, RadioTimes.com understands that there are currently no plans to bring Jossa back as Lauren alongside Hudson as the new Peter. A spokesperson for the actress said: “Of course, Jacqueline is always open to the possibility of a return to EastEnders in the future as she loves the show but, as of right now, she has other projects in the pipeline and is excited for new adventures.”
This chimes with comments made by Jossa shortly before she headed to the jungle to appear in the latest series of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! – a series that she ended up winning.
“I think the time would have to be right for EastEnders – the time isn’t right yet for me,” she told the Daily Star. “It’s too soon, I think, to be honest. I don’t think Lauren Branning is missed necessarily.”
Having just been crowned Queen of the Jungle, it’s understandable that Jossa is looking to pursue new projects right now… but if she’s not returning to EastEnders any time soon, that would seem to leave open only two options: Peter and Lauren break up (again!) or Lauren too is recast (again!).
We’ll have to wait until early next year to find out what path EastEnders has decided to take…