Who's leaving EastEnders? The latest cast changes

We round up the characters who are joining and leaving Walford.

Last updated: 25 May 2018 - 4.14pm

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.

Shock comeback

Alfie Moon (Shane Richie)

Shane Richie

The 54-year-old actor was back as Alfie Moon in the BBC One soap on Thursday (May 24th) night after two years away.

Richie starred in EastEnders’ spin-off Redwater with Jessie Wallace (Kat), who has since made her return to Albert Square.

He told Good Morning Britain: “My mum rang me last night from Dublin and said ‘I can’t believe you didn’t tell me about Alfie’…

“I was snuck in. Jessie’s one of my best friends. I couldn’t even tell her.”

Speaking about his other co-stars, he said: “Jake Wood (Max Branning) texted me, Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell) contacted me, saying ‘Are you coming back?’ I said ‘No, I’m away filming Benidorm’. Of course, I wasn’t.”

He said of keeping his return under wraps: “I was snuck in on the back seat of a car, hood over my head, and was locked in a dressing room. None of the other cast knew.”

He hopes that EastEnders’ boss John Yorke will want him back for more, once his current storyline finishes.

“I’d like to think he’s got plans in the future for Alfie,” he said.

“There’s stories to be told and fingers crossed they’ll bring Alfie back to tell those stories.”

Returning

Kandice Taylor (Hannah Spearitt)

Hannah Spearritt

EastEnders fans have praised former S Club 7 star Hannah Spearritt after she made her debut on Albert Square.

The singer appeared in Thursday night’s double-bill as Karen Taylor’s wealthy sister Kandice, who saved the day by eventually lending the Taylors £1,000 to settle their debts.

[Read more: EastEnders fans applaud Hannah Spearrit debut]

Welcoming the positive reviews, Spearritt posted on Twitter: “Thanku so much for the kind feedback guys… I’m on again at 9.30pm if you fancy a bit more…#Eastenders #kandicetaylor #bbc1."

She is the latest pop star to arrive in Albert Square and follows in the footsteps of Blue star Lee Ryan, who earlier this year took on the role of Harry “Woody” Woodward.

Spearritt, who previously appeared in ITV’s sci-fi drama Primeval, said: “I’m over the moon to be joining the show, it’s such a huge part of British telly.

“I’m really looking forward to getting started and I can’t wait to see the Square in the flesh… Walford here I come.”

The Taylor family first appeared in Albert Square in May, but little is known of Karen’s sibling.

EastEnders has confirmed Spearitt will return for some more episodes later in 2018.

Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer) and Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen)?

bianca jackson and ricky butcher

EastEnders legends Patsy Palmer and Sid Owen walked out of the Square almost four years ago, after playing the unforgettable soap couple on and off for more than two decades. While the couple left sepearately, rumours are now swirling that the two stars will be returning return to EastEnders as their iconic characters Biana Jackson and Ricky Butcher - together.

[More from EastEnders: Patsy Palmer doesn't rule out an EastEnders comeback]

This is all thanks to a cryptic social media post published on Patsy's official Instagram, showing her and co-star Sid laughing as they walk down a sunny road - presumably in Los Angeles, California - where Patsy now lives with her family. The post included the perhaps telling description: "Looking forward to seeing this lunatic next week @sidowen .. friends for 30 years .. long time .." followed by some shooting emojis.

Could this mean the two are to be reunited on the set of EastEnders? Or is Patsy simply teasing her fans and the two are simply set to reunite purely as old friends?

While EastEnders boss John Yorke has yet to confirm or deny such a return, all we can say is watch this space. And let's not forget, Patsy appeared on Loose Women just last year and didn't seem too thrilled about the possiblity of an EastEnders return.

"Never say never. I don't really want to… there's so much you don't do when you're in Elstree for 20 years," she said at the time.

Halfway (Tony Clay)

Tony Clay as Halfway

Tony Clay will be reprising his role as Callum “Halfway” Highway later this spring when the character returns to the Square.

Charming yet hapless, Halfway first arrived back in January after being caught up in the New Year’s Day heist and inadvertently shooting Mick. A friend of the family, the Carters allowed him to stay at The Vic and their kindness soon turned to good fortune when he helped them to save their beloved pub.

During his time in The Vic, Halfway quickly fell for Whitney and despite her reservations, she soon realised her feelings for him. With Halfway called back to duty by the army, the couple have continued their long-distant relationship but what does Halfway’s return mean for their future?

Speaking of his return, Tony Clay said: “I’m really happy and excited to be back on EastEnders and working with such a brilliant cast and crew. Halfway is such a lovely role to play and I’m really looking forward to exploring his story further and seeing where it takes us.”

Tony Clay has returned to filming and will be on screen in the coming weeks.

Leaving

Shakil Kazemi (Shaheen Jafargholi)

shakil kazemi

In a truly heartbreaking EastEnders storyline, Shakil was fatally stabbed after attempting to defend his mate Keegan Baker from a local gang. Keegan had stolen a bike not knowing it belonged to a gang, and the act resulted in both Keegan and Shakil being stabbed - but tragically for Shakil it was a fatal attack.

Jafargholi has been playing Shakil for almost two years, who is the youngest brother of Kush Kazemi and son of Carmel Kazemi. The actor and singer has previously appeared on Britain's Got Talent as a singer in 2009 and came in at seventh place.

Donna Yates (Lisa Hammond)

Four years after joining as Donna Yates, actress Lisa Hammond is set to leave EastEnders. Lisa will officially depart from Albert Square as Donna in the summer. 

"It's been so great to play Donna for the past four years," Lisa told Metro. "I've made lifelong friends at EastEnders and will really miss all of the brilliant cast and crew who have always been a pleasure to work with!"

A spokesperson for EastEnders thanked the actress for being "a fantastic addition to the cast".

"We can confirm Lisa will be leaving EastEnders in the coming months," a statement read. "We wish [Lisa] all the very best for the future."

A rep for the soap also confirmed that it was Lisa's decision to leave.

Woody Woodward (Lee Ryan)

Lee Ryan  - Woody

EastEnders’ Lee Ryan will be leaving Albert Square, it has been announced. The actor and Blue singer, 34, who made his debut as barman Woody in April last year, will be leaving when his contract ends.

Ryan is currently not on-air on the BBC1 soap, while working on other projects. But an EastEnders’ source told the Press Association: “Woody will be back on-screen for a final storyline across several weeks but, as ever in soap, decisions have to be made when contracts are up for renewal.

“At this point, it was decided that Woody’s storyline will be coming to a natural end and viewers can find out how he departs this spring.”

A spokeswoman for the soap confirmed that Ryan “will be leaving EastEnders when his storyline concludes this spring”.

Meanwhile, Ryan told The Sun: “I cannot express enough gratitude to EastEnders for the opportunity they have given me. I’ve had a great time and loved every minute of it and I’m looking forward to my future projects.”

Johnny Cater (Ted Reilly)

Johnny Carter

EastEnders star Ted Reilly has said he will miss his “amazing” co-stars after announcing his plans to leave the soap.

The actor, 26, first arrived in Albert Square as Johnny Carter last year, stepping into the shoes of previous actor Sam Strike and winning viewers’ hearts with his romance with Ben Mitchell.

In a moving Twitter post, he told his fans that it had been a “really tough” but necessary decision.

He wrote: “Thank you for all your lovely messages regarding EE! It was a really tough decision to leave, but at this stage in my career it’s very important to keep being challenged & experience new things!

“I’ll miss the amazing people on the square especially my Carter clan!”

After being written out of the BBC One show, Reilly has now stopped filming and his exit will be aired early in the new year.

The broadcaster said in a statement: “We can confirm Ted has finished filming with EastEnders and wish him all the best for the future.”

Linda and Mick Carter? (Kellie Bright and Danny Dyer)

linda and mick carter

While rumours have been swirling for months that Danny Dyer will be leaving EastEnders at the end of his latest contract, we’re still waiting for an official confirmation from the soap’s bosses. Watch this space…

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