Every once in a while, an old face returns to Albert Square from the past and wreaks havoc on a new list of unsuspecting cast members. It is an effective plot device, as script writers know immediately that old characters have a special resonance with the general public. Absence so often makes the heart grow fonder.
Before long old animosities
and wounds start to resurface, feuds break out in the market and in the Old Vic, which creates the tension that has epitomised the show since its first airing in 1985. Here is a list of some of the most shocking comebacks ever on Britain's favourite soap:
3. Dirty Den – In 2003, one of Walford's most controversial actors, made his big return. Denis Watts was a notorious womaniser in his heyday and he returned with all of his old corrupt principles and schmoozing charm. Watts was shot by the side of a canal and assumed dead when he left the show in 1994, but came back in one of the most unbelievable storylines ever. That was until he was booted off the show in 2004 once and for all, after some well-publicised misdemeanours away from the set involving a web-cam.
2. Grant Mitchell – One half of the most menacing set of bald brothers ever to grace our television screens, Grant and Phil Mitchell, struck fear into the heart of every man, woman and child who wronged them. Grant left the show in 1999 in a fit of gun shots and madness, after plunging into the Thames with his brother in the passenger seat. Phil was rescued from the water, and Grant survived as well – but eloped to Rio de Janeiro with a case full of stolen money. Grant has returned twice since then to shake the square to its very core, in 2005 and 2006, and both times the rating figures have shot through the roof.
1. Bianca and Ricky – One of the most enduring love stories on Eastenders has been that of fiery red head Bianca Jackson and mechanic Ricky Butcher. Patsy Palmer left in 1999 as she wanted to spend more time with her family and Sid Owen followed soon after in 2000 to pursue a music career. The pair returned briefly for a cameo in 2001, but 2008 marked the big show-stopping return. Bianca was plunged into perhaps the most shocking and controversial plot in the shows history, as her daughter Whitney was groomed by her paedophile boyfriend Tony King..