Who's leaving EastEnders? The latest cast changes

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

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.

[Read more: Who's leaving and joining Coronation Street?]

Leaving

Dr Harold Legg (Leonard Fenton)

Dot got a blast from the past recently when her old pal and confidante Doctor Harold Legg returned to Albert Square after an 11-year absence.

We always knew that Dr Legg's storyline had been billed as an emotional one, and we found out why when he revealed some devastating news - he is dying.

He's long been Dot's go-to man every time she suffers an attack of hypochondria, but while Dot is in good health, her friend's body is failing.

The news was also tough for fans as Dr Legg is one of the last characters from the soap's 1985 launch who is still around.

Dr Legg's final moments are due to play out in February and will certainly hit Dot hard, but they'll also herald the return of some past characters as we'll see below.

[Read more: Emmerdale's latest cast changes]

Max Branning (Jake Wood)

Long-running favourite Max Branning is about to bid a fond farewell to Walford, but don't worry - it's only temporary.

Actor Jake Wood runs a popular boxing podcast on the side of his soap work, and wants to take a break so that he can go on tour with it.

He'll be off screen for a while in early 2019, but it's been confirmed that he will be back on set after a few weeks.

Hunter Owen (Charlie Winter)

Mel and Steve Owen's son is bidding farewell to Walford in the coming weeks after shooting Ray Kelly dead at New Year.

The festive episodes may be far behind us, but Ray's body has been dug up now and it looks as though Hunter could be arrested for his connection with the killing.

Actor Charlie Winter is definitely being written out, but the viewers will see the repercussions for Mel for a long time to come.

Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra)

Sad news awaits in the early months of 2019, as viewer favourite Masood is set to leave the Square again just a year after he made his return.

Masood will be invited to Tamwar and Nancy's wedding in Oz, but when he suggests to Kathy Beale that they make a permanent move there after the big day, what will her reaction be?

The couple have only just got back together and it's not exactly the traditional move to Manchester that the soap's characters often go for.

Nitin Ganatra told Metro: "When I was asked to return to EastEnders it was always with the intention of helping set up new Asian characters that continue the Masood family adventures. With Arshad and Mariam at the helm and with the arrival of the feisty sisters Iqra and Habiba I can now venture off to new horizons as an actor."

However, even if Masood does choose to move Down Under, actor Nitin hasn't ruled out his character returning one day.

Returning

Lofty Holloway and Mary Smith (Tom Watt and Linda Davidson)

Back for Dr Legg's funeral scenes are blasts from the past Lofty and Mary.

The pair have been away from Albert Square for 30 years now, but both characters will return played by the original actors, who couldn't be more thrilled.

Linda Davidson said: "EastEnders was my first proper family. It gave me stability and a fantastic foundation from which to build an incredible life.

"The people of EastEnders have been a consistent thread throughout the intervening years. I am so thrilled, and very proud to be returning to that family 35 years later. It's going to be a blast!”

[Read more: All the latest Hollyoaks cast changes]

Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold)

Fans of the soap will be rejoicing at Lola's return after three years away - but will the other Walford residents?

New EastEnders boss Kate Oates has confessed to loving the feisty character and made getting her back top of her to-do list, with a return expected early in 2019.

Surely Billy will be delighted to see her, but how Jay will feel at being confronted with his adored ex could be a trickier matter...

Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden)

Phil's trouble-magnet son is back, represented yet again by a new actor.

You may recognise actor Max Bowden from his previous role in Waterloo Road, and it seems he'll have plenty of sides to Ben's character to sink his teeth into.

Showrunner Kate Oates said: "A character like Ben, with his rich history, 'complicated' family and complex psychology, is pure gold. With Max in the role, we will be exploring the aspects of Ben’s character that have been allowed to develop during his time away from the Square: unfettered by old loyalties, and out of the long shadow of his father, Phil."

Sean Slater (Rob Kazinsky)

More exciting news on the returning star front includes a reappearance for Rob Kazinsky as Sean Slater.

He'll only be back for a guest run, but it's a huge coup to get a big star like Rob back to soap - since leaving, he's starred in Pacific Rim and True Blood - and his comments on returning are very Hollywood.

Rob said: “It’s 10 years since Sean fled from Walford and I left the studio at Elstree behind to move to the USA to chase a dream that seemed so far-fetched.

“Throughout my career I have always felt my best work was on EastEnders, and that there was something in Sean I understood completely that was so traumatic which we never really got to show the viewers. I have unfinished business in Albert Square and am thrilled to be returning to what I still consider to be my home, however briefly.

“EastEnders is still the most important serial on British television, never afraid to combat hard storylines and tell hard truths. I have always been proud of what EastEnders has done for social awareness and that is why I’m back – to tell a story that means something to me with the family that I know can tell it right.

“I can’t wait to see my Slaters again and see what’s in store for Sean as he brings an evolved animal to Albert Square.”

[Read more: EastEnders killer Bobby Beale is being released from prison]

Bobby Beale (Eliot Carrington)

Walford might be weeding out one killer with the departure of Hunter Owen, but he'll swiftly be replaced by another.

In a recent episode of the soap, Ian Beale was shown receiving a letter from HMP informing him that his young son Bobby Beale is due to be released in June.

Bobby is in prison for killing his sister Lucy, the culmination of a long-running whodunnit storyline about who her murderer was, so his return is big news for the characters as well as the viewers.

Joining

Habiba and Iqra Ahmed (Rukku Nahar and Priya Davdra)

Mariam and Arshad's granddaughters arrive on the Square in early 2019, but it may not be the happy family reunion that you'd expect.

They've been touted as causing chaos, and apparently have ulterior motives for dropping in on their family which will become clear shortly after they arrive.

Soap fans may recognise Rukku Nahar as she had a brief stint as Asha Kaur in Hollyoaks in 2018.

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Images: BBC, Rex

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