Sonia to return to EastEnders

Actress Natalie Cassidy is to return to the soap that made her famous seven years after she left.

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Patsy Palmer to quit EastEnders

Patsy Palmer arriving for the 2014 National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

EastEnders veteran Patsy Palmer is quitting the soap after more than a decade playing Bianca Butcher.

The actress, who is reportedly moving to Los Angeles in a bid to build a career in Hollywood, will leave the BBC1 show this year.

A spokesman for the star said: "Patsy is really sad to be leaving the show as she loves playing Bianca and working with Dominic, but she knows it's the right decision at this time in her life."

EastEnders executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said: "We are so sad that Patsy has decided to leave us, but completely understand that it's the right time for her.

Read more on EastEnders on ITV News

Show bosses have said they will not kill off her character but have stated when she will be leaving: "Bianca won't be leaving Albert Square until the Autumn. We won't be getting rid of Bianca's puffa jacket just yet."

Ex-EastEnders star set for brief Albert Square return

Former EastEnders star John Partridge - who played Christian Clarke in the soap - is returning to Albert Square in the aftermath of the storyline about Lucy Beale's murder.

(Left to right) Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt), Peter Beale (Ben Hardy) and Christian Clarke (John Partridge). Credit: BBC/PA Wire

The 42-year-old will reprise his role "for a short stint" on the show for the funeral scenes which started shooting yesterday.

Viewers will see Christian pay his respects and support his elder sister Jane Beale who was Lucy's stepmother which will mark the first time Partridge has been seen in the show since leaving in November 2012.

He previously dismissed any possible return, telling Metro: "I'm out of it forever. I didn't get killed or anything. We both left to lead a much better life out of the Square."

Lucy (Hetti Bywater) will be killed off with the whodunnit storyline set to run up until the show's 30th anniversary in February 2015 when the identity of the killer will be revealed.

Read: EastEnders to reflect new East End including Shoreditch


Your views: Making EastEnders feel more like London

EastEnders must reflect the changing face of east London, as "it's been frozen in aspic too long", the show's new executive producer has said.

Here are a selection of suggestions from users of ITV News' Facebook page to update Albert Square

Make the cast use their washing machines instead of going to the laundrette all the time... It must cost them a fortune! And put some more happy story-lines in too instead of being so morbid all the time

– Samantha Wells

Have someone actually work off the square. And be happy not dysfunctional.

– Dennis Rodriguez

Close the market or put it under threat and give the community some to band together over like the rest of the country. Make it more real!!

– Carolyn Tovey

Read: EastEnders' new boss says show 'must reflect the modern East End including Shoreditch'

Eastenders to get new Albert Square after 30 years

The set of Albert Square featured in long running soap Eastenders is to be revamped after three decades in order to "secure the long-term future of both the show and site" according to BBC bosses.

Actress Danniella Westbrook at Albert Square, of television's Eastenders
Actress Danniella Westbrook at Albert Square in 1999 Credit: Andrew Stuart/PA Archive

The staff and cast were informed this morning that the exterior scenery at the studio at Elstree will be rebuilt and expanded by a fifth, with work expected to be completed in 2018.

The announcement of the soap's new look set comes just weeks after ITV rival Coronation Street overhauled its set and moved to a new studio in Salford.

The present EastEnders set was built in 1984 and new executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said the plans "firmly demonstrates the BBC's commitment to the future of EastEnders."


Downton goes head to head with EastEnders

Downton Abbey is to go head to head with EastEnders in the Christmas ratings battle.

The ITV period drama, which will be shown at 8.30pm on Christmas Day, will also be up against Mrs Brown's Boys on BBC 1, during the two-hour long episode.

Cast and crew of Downton Abbey collect the Best Drama award on stage during the 2012 NTA Awards. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive/Press Association Image

Downton, which is returning to ITV for a fifth series next year, has been sold to more than 220 territories and watched by an estimated 120 million people around the world since its debut in 2010.

Read more: Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti joins Downton Christmas cast

Danny Dyer set to become Queen Vic's new landlord

Danny Dyer will become the new landlord of the Queen Vic as he joins the cast of EastEnders this Christmas.

Danny Dyer will be joining the soap with Kellie Bright. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive

The actor, who is known for his role in The Football Factory, will take over the running of the pub before the end of the year.

Dyer, who will take on the role of Mick Carter, will be joined in the Vic by Kellie Bright - who has appeared in Ali G In Da House and the Only Fools And Horses spin-off Rock And Chips - who is to play his wife Linda.

A BBC spokesperson said Dyer's character was a "bloke's bloke" who was also a big softie, they added: "He thinks nothing of throwing on Linda's pink dressing gown and cooking breakfast for the family in the morning before getting the beer barrels ready downstairs."

Dyer said: "I'm so excited about starting a new chapter in my career and I cannot wait to become part of the East End family."

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