1. ITV Report

Sonia to return to EastEnders after seven year absence

Sonia will return to Albert Square in a plotline involving the Butchers. Photo: PA

Sonia Fowler is set to return to EastEnders with a "gripping storyline" in January next year, the BBC revealed.

Actress Natalie Cassidy left the soap seven years ago, but will return with her onscreen daughter Rebecca, and find herself embroiled a storyline with the women of the Butcher household.

Since she left Sonia has popped up in occasional episodes to reveal how her relationship with Martin Fowler is on the rocks - but will now make a full-time return.

Natalie (above left) with Charlie Brooks, who plays Janine Butcher, in 1999. Natalie played Sonia for 14 years Credit: PA

She is the latest addition to the cast under new executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins, who has recently recruited Danny Dyer as the new landlord of the Queen Vic.

Sonia left the show when she regained custody of the baby she had given up for adoption, daughter Rebecca, along with the father of the child, Martin Fowler.

Natalie at the Health Lottery event at Claridges, in London, in March this year. Credit: PA

Cassidy, who made her first appearance on the show almost 20 years ago, said:

After seven years being out of the show, apart from the odd episode, I am extremely excited and honoured to be making a full-time return.

I feel so lucky as an actress to get back to my roots. With Dominic as executive producer, it's such an exciting time for the show. I cannot wait to work with Patsy (Palmer - Bianca) and Lindsey (Coulson - Carol) again. Bring it on.

– Natalie Cassidy aka Sonia Fowler