Deaths, break-ups, estranged family members. It can be hard to keep up with who’s coming and going in EastEnders.

So keep reading for a guide to who's joining and leaving the soap.

[Who's leaving Coronation Street? All the latest cast changes]

Returning

Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra)

EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra has said he is “over-bloody-whelmed” after fans welcomed news of his return as postman Masood to Albert Square. Ganatra, 50, quit EastEnders in November 2016 after nine years in Walford, saying he wanted to explore other roles.

Viewers saw his character leave with his son Kamil, to begin a new life in Pakistan and reunite with ex-wife Zainab. But he will return later this year, with new cast members playing his extended family as Masood “tries his best to settle (them) into Albert Square”.

Ganatra confirmed he would reprise the role, writing on Twitter: “I am somewhat over-bloody-whelmed for the love being shown for Masood for his return (not onscreen for a while yet) Thank U. Love u.”

He said in a statement: “It was a lovely surprise to be asked back to EastEnders so soon after I left. In fact I was bowled over.

“When I was told Masood has still much to give to the show and is missed by the audience, it was hard to refuse.

“It is with great pride that I will grow my Masood goaty once again to help create and base an extended family around him. Exciting days to come Walford with Masood back on the Square.”

James Willmott Brown (William Boyde)

James Willmott Brown

The classic EastEnders villain hasn't been seen on Albert Square since 1992, but the infamous character was shown leaving a special message for Kathy Beale in the Thursday, September 21st episode of the soap.

Willmott Brown left the show after he was sent to jail for the rape of Kathy Beale, but he returned briefly in 1992 to continue his obession with her. After she revealed the true impact of his attack on her, he left the Square and hasn't been seen since.

He was last directly mentioned in 1994 when Phil Mitchell discovered that he was back in jail for raping another woman.

[Read more: Why do EastEnders fans think Willmott Brown is back in Albert Square]

Leaving

Abi and Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald)

Abi and Lauren in EastEnders

The popular duo were the first victims of a show shake-up from new boss John Yorke.

EastEnders stars Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald are leaving the soap, the BBC has confirmed.

The duo, who play sisters Lauren and Abi Branning, have been staple characters in the BBC One show for over a decade.

Fitzgerald, whose character Abi told Steven Beale she was pregnant with his baby seconds before he died on Friday’s episode, joined the soap 11 years ago.

Her sister Lauren, played by Jossa, was engaged to Beale and his death will lead to the sisters having a showdown in Monday’s instalment.

Jossa, who is married to former The Only Way Is Essex star Dan Osbourne, joined the show in 2010. Lauren was previously played by Madeline Duggan.

A spokeswoman for the soap said: "We can confirm that Jacqueline and Lorna will be leaving EastEnders. They have both been wonderful to work with and we wish them all the best for the future."

Steven Beale (Aaron Sidwell)

The younger cast of the soap let the cat out of the bag for Aaron Sidwell's "surprise" exit recently when they posted photos and clips of a party they were all at - with a "sorry you're leaving" banner in the background. Oops. Producers later confirmed that Sidwell would be off following a dramatic storyline.

After a week of dramatic episodes, it was revealed that Steven Beale (Aaron Sidwell) had died following the gas explosion. The character suffered from internal bleeding following a scuffle with Max Branning.

Speaking about his character's emotional final scenes, which included a declaration of love for Abi Branning, Sidwell said: "What felt particularly fitting about it was the tragedy of it all – it was a very Shakespearian tragedy in that Steven finds out the girl he's fallen in love with, and who loves him too, is carrying his child and all his crimes are forgiven.

"It's everything that he's ever wanted in life but he doesn't get to have it. It was very apt for that to be Steven's end. His whole life has been so tragic yet we've just seen him make the decision to not be that person – to try to save Jane, and yet that's the decision that cost him his life."

He added: "I think that Steven is an iconic character and the fact we had Nasty Nick, Dirty Den and now, as the audience have named him, Psycho Steven – that in itself, the fact he has a 'name' tells you what an iconic character he was.

"He was also the eldest Beale, he was the first Beale child in that brood and he will always have an iconic status. I think he was such a brilliant, brilliant, character."

Steven Beale was first introduced in 1989 and was the son of Simon Wicks (Nick Berry) and Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins). He was played by four different actors, Edward Farrell, Stuart Stevens, Edwards Savage and Aaron Sidwell from 2007 onwards.

[Read more; EastEnders Aaron Sidwell denies BBC row]

Joining

Aidan Joseph Patrick Maguire (Patrick Bergin)

Patrick Bergin

Hollywood star Patrick Bergin has joined EastEnders to play Aidan Joseph Patrick Maguire, a charismatic old school villain who is full of charm but cross him at your peril…

Aidan is an old friend of Phil Mitchell’s; they used to live together at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in 2005. During their time inside the two formed a strong friendship helping each other out if and when they needed it.  Although they haven’t been in touch for years, when Aidan turns up on Phil’s doorstep it’s not long before the old bond is instantly reignited as well as Phil’s passion for dabbling in things that aren’t, well, strictly legit… High status, enigmatic and full of charm, Aidan Maguire’s presence in Walford will most certainly be felt.

Patrick Bergin has starred in many films and television dramas including Mountains of the Moon, Dracula, Robin Hood, Red Rock and most famously Sleeping with the Enemy.

Speaking about joining EastEnders Patrick said: "I am delighted to be joining EastEnders as I have watched and admired it since the days of Dirty Den. It is an iconic show that has the ability to shape the way people think, whilst also telling big explosive stories that keep the audience gripped. I am really looking forward to seeing what they have in store for Aidan as it's bound to be dramatic."

John Yorke, creative director, EastEnders said: "EastEnders deserves the very best and in Patrick we are absolutely privileged to have a truly great actor join the show. It’s a huge honour to have him on board, where he’ll be working hand in hand with Phil Mitchell and Mick Carter to carry a truly explosive storyline for Christmas and New Year. We can’t wait to get started."

Sam Mitchell - Danniella Westbrook 

Sam Mitchell - BBC Pictures

The Mitchell family are depleted on Albert Square following the tragic exits of Ronnie and Roxie. However, a tweet from Danniella Westbrook got fans speculating over a possible return for famous Enders troublemaker, Sam Mitchell.

"Oh and just so ya all know ... IM BLONDE AGAIN .... Hmmmm Wonder why. #Time2Work #ShesBack #blondemeansbusiness." she said.

In a recent appearance on ITV's Loose Women, Westbrook suggested she would be making a return to Albert Square. 

She said: “There’s a big chance of me going back into EastEnders. I’m going to be back there at the end of the year.”

However, a spokesman for EastEnders apparently denied the claim and said: “There are no plans for Danniella to return.”

Westbrook last appeared on the show in 2016 during a four-episode stint to mark the exit of Peggy Mitchell. Commenting afterwards on Instragram, the actress wrote: "It's such a shame I won't be going back to the show, as I think people would of loved to see Sam as a mum and with a different take on the character.

"But I don't write the show I just do what they tell me. And they've done what they always do, use Sam when she's needed and then send her off in a black cab.

"I wish Eastenders would listen to the public more. But either way I'm grateful of the 4 episodes I got to film."