When any new boss takes over a soap, speculation soon turns to which characters they will choose to bring back.
That’s certainly the case with ‘EastEnders’ at the moment, following the news executive producer Sean O’Connor has stood down after a tumultuous year in the job.
The soap’s new boss isn’t actually all that new, as John Yorke was head honcho back in the early 2000s, and he’s reported to have already made a plan of action to help reverse the show’s dwindling ratings and ailing fortunes.
With that in mind, we’ve drawn up a hit list of our own, comprising 12 characters we think John definitely needs to bring back if the soap really is to be restored to its former glory.
As Max’s revenge plan trundles slowly on, we’re quickly losing interest in his ploy to destroy Walford for his wrongful conviction for Lucy Beale’s murder. So what better way of putting a bomb up the plot than by having Tanya rock back up in the Square?
Max and Tanya’s on-off relationship always proved to be on-screen dynamite and defined the late 00s era of the soap, and she would be sure to have something to say about his recent antics, as well as those of her wayward daughters Lauren and Abi.
Having an actress of Jo Joyner’s prowess back would certainly bolster the cast, but with a second series of her critically acclaimed new drama ‘Ackley Bridge’ confirmed, we may have to wait a while before Tanya pops back to ask “How’s Adam?”.
Kat and Alfie Moon
If you caught any of ‘Redwater’ (if you didn’t, don’t worry - not many people did), you’ll know that Kat and Alfie’s lives were left hanging in the balance at the end of the series. With a second run looking unlikely, we need Kat and Alfie to return home so we know they’re OK.
Alfie’s ongoing treatment for his brain tumour would give the couple the perfect reason to come back to Walford and would give them plenty of material for Jessie Wallace and Shane Richie to get their teeth stuck into.
And while it may seem like there’s nowhere else to take the characters after endless affairs and stints behind the bar, don’t forget they won the lottery shortly before they left the Square in 2014.
A minted Kat lording it up over her neighbours could provide endless comedy gold, plus we’d love to see how all that dosh has changed the couple’s dynamic.
Pam and Les Coker
Why Sean O’Connor axed the fabulous Pam and Les, only to bring in a poor man’s version (yes, we mean you, Ted and Joyce Murray), is anyone’s guess, and quite frankly we’re still not over it.
Even though Les’s cross-dressing storyline divided some viewers, the couple brought a such warmth to the show, and always felt like they were cut down in their prime, especially given some of stand-out performances from Lin Blakley and Roger Sloman gave following the murder of the couple’s grandson Paul.
The pair are now residing in Worthing, but Pam has popped back home twice now to check on how Billy is running the undertakers, so there’s still plenty of potential to bring back Les and ‘Birdy’ full time.
Sam Mitchell 2.0
We last saw Danniella Westbrook’s version of Sam at Peggy’s funeral last year, but after the actress went on various tirades against the soap, we’d be stunned to we see her back on the Square any time soon.
So with the Mitchells currently looking a bit depleted following the deaths of Ronnie and Roxy, we’re calling for Kim Medcalf to make a sensational return as the Mitchell minx to boost the clan’s numbers.
John Yorke is responsible for recasting the character in 2002, so would likely have a soft spot for Kim’s version, and if we’re being honest, we always preferred her in the role too.
Plus we’d also like her to right the wrongs Danniella’s incarnation made during her short reprisals and reunite with her abandoned son Ricky.
Zainab is undoubtedly one of the best matriarchs ‘EastEnders’ has created in more recent times, sitting comfortably alongside the likes of Peggy Mitchell and Pauline Fowler thanks to her interfering nature and acerbic tongue.
She hasn’t been seen in Walford since 2013, when she left for Pakistan, and while she has been referenced many times on screen, we’re dying to know if she’s still causing hell for everyone around her.
Admittedly, bosses would have a hard time coming up with ways to bring her back, given she now has no family left in Walford, but actress Nina Wadia revealed she was approached to return just last year, so could the right storyline finally persuade her to return?
With Ben Hardy off being a big film star in Hollywood, any chance of him reprising the role is pretty slim. However, we’re certainly not against the idea of a recast, or even handing the part back to previous actor Thomas Law.
That’s because we’ve just never bought the excuses we’ve been given about Peter’s absence from Albert Square over the last year or so. While we know producers had to find a way to split him and Lauren up in order to get actress Jacqueline Jossa back from maternity leave, Peter running off and abandoning his son Louis never really rang true.
And the old Peter would also never have let his brother steal his girlfriend.
With Lauren now caught between Stephen and her creepy boss Josh, what would a surprise comeback from Peter mean for the love triangle? And would he have forgiven Ian and Jane for their part in covering up Lucy’s murder? Maybe even he could be a surprise tool in Max Branning’s revenge plan - the possibilities are endless.
Walford has been missing a resident bitch ever since Janine was last seen praying on a rich man as she prepared to jet out of the UK, having got away with the murder of ex-husband Michael Moon.
Three years on, we’re intrigued to see what trouble Janine has been causing, and whether she has become a doting mother to her five-year-old daughter, or turned her into a complete mini-me.
If she were to return to Walford, it would also be interesting to see how she would take to some of the newer faces like the Carters and the Taylors, as well as seeing her reprise old feuds with the likes of Ian Beale and Stacey Fowler.
Sean has been a terrible brother to Stacey in the eight years since he left Walford, only managing one Skype call (where we didn’t even see or hear him) in that time. And it’s not like Stace has exactly had it easy either - she’s watched her husband die after falling off the Queen Vic roof, gone down for murdering Archie Mitchell, had a psychotic breakdown and discovered their father had a whole other family they knew nothing about.
So now seems like a good a time as any for Sean to make it up to Stacey for not supporting her with a visit home.
Not only would it beef up the depleted Slater clan, we were always big fans of the odd dynamic between him and his mum Jean, who would be so delighted to have him back, she’d undoubtedly knock up one of her Sausage Surprises.
One of Walford’s all-time greatest baddies, certain parts of the ‘EastEnders’ fandom have long been calling for the return of Tracy-Ann Oberman as the deliciously dark Chrissie.
The character is currently behind bars for the murder of Dirty Den, but given how little of their sentences prison Walford residents usually serve, she’s surely due parole soon.
Her arrival back on the Square would certainly ruffle some feathers too - mainly Sharon Mitchell’s, who would be aghast to see her father’s killer walking free. Seeing the two women lock horns and have a good old bitch fight would certainly inject some much-needed camp back into ‘EastEnders’.
We know that John Yorke is a big fan of the Slater family, having first introduced them into the soap back in 2000, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Kat and Alfie were to be joined by a few relatives if they did return during his tenure.
One of the clan we’d really love to see is Little Mo. Once the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her violent husband Trevor, the character is responsible for one of the most memorable soap moments ever, when she sought her revenge by clobbering him over the head with an iron.
16 years on from her ordeal, is Mo still the timid character she once was, or is she now as confident and ballsy as the rest of the Slater women? And how would Billy Mitchell react at seeing his ex-wife back on the Square?