‘EastEnders’ bosses have surprised fans with an early arrival for returnee Mel Owen.
The character popped up at the end of Tuesday (9 January) night’s episode - two days earlier than had been trailed in previously released spoilers.
Mel - played by Tamzin Outhwaite - was granted the famous duff-duff, as she walked back into The Arches, seemingly on the hunt for Ben Mitchell.
Viewers know that Ben has stolen the money Aidan McGuire and his team of Phil Mitchell, Mick Carter, Vincent Hubbard and Keanu Taylor acquired in their botched heist.
Mel’s search for Ben will have done nothing to dampen speculation she is somehow connected to Aidan and was involved in the robbery.
There have also been suggestions her arrival will tie in with the departure of Ben, as actor Harry Reid is leaving the soap in the coming weeks.
Tamzin previously hinted her character, who was last seen on the Square in 2002, had taken a dark turn during her time away.
During an interview with HuffPost UK, she revealed Mel is back for “a very serious reason”, saying: “I can tell you she’s back, but she doesn’t want to be back.
“She’s back for a reason, it’s a very serious reason and she needs to get into that Square and do what she needs to do, and get out again.
“Unfortunately, it takes longer than she expects.”
She continued: “She definitely visits Ian, she definitely visits Phil. She bumps into a few old faces… Sharon. But really the story doesn’t revolve around those people, the reason she’s back doesn’t revolve around them at all.”
Mel originally fled Walford after her husband Steve (Martin Kemp) was killed in a car crash at the hands of Phil.
Steve’s web of deceit and lies were soon uncovered, and Mel found herself facing a long stretch in prison as she was unknowingly implicated his drug dealing. However, viewers have never known what happened to the character.
Meanwhile, it has also been confirmed Mel and Steve’s son would also arrive on the Square in the coming weeks.
Now 15, Hunter Owen will be played by newcomer Charlie Winter, and is described as “charming and charismatic” just like his father, but while it appears he shares Steve’s good traits, a dark side has also been teased.