Who's leaving EastEnders? The latest cast changes

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

Last updated: 13 July 2018 - 10.38am

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.


Carmel Kazemi (Bonnie Langford)

Bonnie Langford

Bnnie Langford is set to leave EastEnders in the autumn after three years on the soap playing Carmel Kazemi.

She will depart Albert Square as her character struggles to cope with son Shakil’s violent death. The teenager was stabbed in what Langford said was the toughest storyline of her career.

Confirming she was leaving, Langford said she was honoured to be part of the show. The 53-year-old told the Daily Mirror: "I’ve had a wonderful three-and-a-half years at EastEnders and it’s been a privilege to be part of such an iconic show.

"My storyline has been such an incredible experience and I’m honoured to be part of something so powerful and poignant.

"However, I’ve known since the beginning of this storyline it would always lead to Carmel having to take a break from Walford."

New arrival

Ray Kelly (Sean Mahon)

Shane Richie

Irish TV star Sean Mahon is to join EastEnders as the ex-husband of Melanie Owen, the BBC has announced.

The Red Rock actor will play Ray Kelly, stepfather to Mel’s son Hunter, who is described as “a serial risk-taker and expert liar”, who has the gift of the gab when it comes to getting what he wants.

Mel, played by Tamzin Outwaite, has been avoiding questions about him and was very reluctant to call him for help, making him the last person she will want to see in Walford.

Viewers have already met Ray’s sister, Ciara (Denise McCormack), ex-wife of Irish gangster Aidan Maguire (Patrick Bergin), suggesting a chequered past.

Hunter (Charlie Winter) has made secret contact with his stepfather and said he thinks his mother’s current boyfriend, Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), is not good enough for her.

The residents of Walford should not be fooled by Ray’s slick exterior because a man who thrives on danger and who cannot be trusted is lurking underneath, the BBC warned.

Mahon said: "I remember watching the very first episode of EastEnders back in 1985; little did I think I would be roaming the streets of Walford and hanging out at the Queen Vic all these years later.

"I'm so happy to join such an incredibly hard-working and talented team and I’m very much looking forward to playing out the drama that inevitably ensues on any given day in Albert Square.

"My character, Ray Kelly, is not one to tread lightly and his arrival to the Square will cause shockwaves for many of the residents... it doesn't get much better than that."

His character brings to the show some very big secrets and we can’t wait to watch them explode

John Yorke, executive consultant of the soap, said: "Sean is both a wonderful actor and a delight to work with. His character brings to the show some very big secrets and we can't wait to watch them explode."

Mahon has already started filming and will appear on screen later this summer.


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.”

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.


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.”

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