Eastenders producer Chris Clenshaw has hinted that much-loved characters from the BBC soap opera’s past could return to celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary next year

EastEnders boss Chris Clenshaw has hinted that more beloved characters from the past could return to Albert Square to celebrate the soap’s 40th anniversary next year.

“The 40th has been in the works for quite some time,” says the executive producer, teasing that script writers could even have left “Easter egg” clues in previous episodes already, and adding: “The nostalgic element means a lot.”

Fans have been speculating that Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell could be being brought back from the dead after Cindy Beale returned to the soap in May last year, played by actress Michelle Collins, despite the character being killed off in the soap in 1998 when her ex-husband Ian was told she had died in childbirth.

The sisters drowned on Ronnie’s wedding day, in horrifying scenes where Ronnie, played by Samantha Womack, jumped into the pool to save Roxy (Rita Simons) but her wedding dress weighed her down and the pair drowned together.

EastEnders fans have been speculating that Ronnie Mitchell (played by Samantha Womack, right) and Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons, left) could be brought back from the dead on the show (
Image:
BBC/Jack Barnes)

Famously, ‘Dirty’ Den (Leslie Grantham) returned to the soap in 2003, 14 years after his assassination. However, there are also plenty of former characters still presumed to be alive in the soap who could also make some sensational returns.

Den’s second wife, Chrissie Watts (Tracy-Ann Oberman) murdered him again in the Queen Vic pub in 2005 as part of the show’s 20th anniversary specials. Tracy has since hinted that her character could return soon, noting that Chrissie must be “due for parole at any point now” having been sentenced in 2006. “She’s served longer than most actual murdering prisoners and if she’d had a better lawyer, she would have got mitigating circumstanes,” she has previously said.

Chris hints that the show “may” bring characters back, and goes on to explain: “It’s not just because of the lovely reaction. It all depends on the story and where the characters are.

“As we head towards our 40th year, it is the history of the show. I think the nostalgic element means a lot. But it has to come from character, it has to come from story.”

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Tracy-Ann Oberman has previously teased that her character Chrissie Watts would return to Albert Square in the future (
Image:
BBC)

The upcoming storyline, and any former characters that come back to the soap, is shrouded in secrecy, but is likely to follow on from this year’s Christmas plot, which is traditionally dramatic. Last year’s Christmas story saw The Six murder suspects teased all year, with viewers left guessing who had killed who. It was revealed that Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) murdered Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) by stabbing him to death with a meat thermometer.

“Christmas is well underway,” continues Chris, who was speaking at the TRIC Awards, where Eastenders was nominated in the Best Soap category. “In the story office there is a board and it all connects. I compare it to a tapestry board, everything has to fit together. We’ve got the new Mitchells coming in that will stir some trouble up. And as we head through into the autumn and the end of the year, we’ve got quite a few treats coming up.”

The soap turns 40 in February 2025, and actress Natalie Cassidy confirmed in February this year that plans for a huge storyline were already underway.