EastEnders stars who were recast – fury at return snub, racy pics and job U-turn

EastEnders has seen plenty of actors come and go since it first aired on BBC One soap back in 1985.

While some characters have been played by the same actors for decades, other roles have been played by multiple actors.

Some stars have been recast when characters return leaving some famous faces furious.

However, others were replaced without any explanation after an actor has decided to leave the show.

Daily Star has taken a look at some of the EastEnders fan favourite characters who have been recast or replaced throughout the years, from Martin Fowler and Janine Butcher to Lucy Beale and Ben Mitchell.

Martin Fowler

Martin is the youngest son of Walford legend Pauline Fowler.

The character has been played by three different actors since he first stepped foot in Albert Square back in 1985.

Jon Peyton-Price portrayed the role of Martin from 1985 until 1996 and James Alexandrou from 1996 until 2007.

Alexandrou quit the role in 2006 and has since appeared in feature film, Semper Fidel in Cuba and several theatre productions across the country.

In 2015, he appeared as Carl Parry in BBC drama Silent Witness.

In October 2014, it was announced that EastEnders producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins decided to reintroduce Martin, with the role being recast to James Bye.

The fruit and veg stall worker has found himself at the centre of dramatic storylines in recent years including getting Sonia pregnant aged 15 and killing his friend Jamie Mitchell.

Chelsea Fox

EastEnders viewers were first introduced to feisty Chelsea back in 2006.

Actress Tiana Benjamin portrayed the role from 2006 until 2010.

The TV star reportedly left her role in the Harry Potter film series to appear in the BBC soap.

Tiana announced her departure from the show in April 2010 and her final episode aired in August the same year.

Since leaving the show, Tiana has been credited with parts in shows such as Fast Girls, Casualty, and The Interceptor.

More recently, she appeared in 2019's The Creatress, Holby City and The Dumping Ground.

Tiana has undergone something of a digital detox in recent years, deleting her Instagram account where she used to keep fans updated.

However, her IMDB page shows that her latest film Absent is currently in pre-production stages.

Chelsea's return to Walford was announced in October 2020, with the role recast to Zaraah Abrahams.

Liam Butcher

Bianca Jackson and Ricky Butcher's son Liam has been played by a whooping eight different actors since the character was born in 1998.

Sonny Bottomley played Liam for just two months from 1998 until 1999. Twins Jack and Tom Godolphin took over from 1999 until 2000.

Twins Gavin and Michtell Vaughan portrayed the role in 2002 while Nataniel Gleed played a young Liam from 2002 until 2004.

Upon his reintroduction in 2008, the character was portrayed by James Forde.

James played the role from 2008 until 2015 until the character was written out.

Liam was reintroduced earlier this year for a short stint with Alfie Deegan playing the dodgy teenager.

James took to Twitter to discuss the news that Liam had returned as a different actor.

He tweeted: "Appreciate the love people but don't be upset.

"I chose myself to be a builder and not an actor and I am genuinely happier than ever right now. Do what works for you and be happy."

Ben Mitchell

Ben has been played by six different actors since he first appeared in the soap back in 1996.

Matthew Silver appeared as an infant Ben between 1996 and 1998, and Morgan Whittle played him as a toddler between 1999 and 2001.

After a five-year absence from the series, Charlie Jones assumed the role of Ben in 2006.

In 2010, the character was recast with Joshua Pascoe in the role, who made his first appearance on 13 December 2010.

Pascoe quit the role in 2012 and Ben departed on 24 August 2012.

Ben's return was announced in May 2014 with actor Harry Reid in the role, but he was written out of the series in 2017 and Ben departed in 2018.

The character was reintroduced in 2019 with the role recast to Max Bowden, who has since found love with Callum Highway.

Dotty Cotton

The role of Dot Cotton's rebel granddaughter Dotty was played by Molly Conlin from 2008 until 2010.

Nasty Nick Cotton (John Altman) used his young daughter as his partner-in-crime and they planned to kill his mother Dot and inherit the money from her will.

Dotty left the square for nine years and returned in 2019 with Milly Zero portraying the troublemaker.

Original star Molly said she was "very upset" at the decision.

She told The Sun at the time: "They did approach me, unfortunately they wanted the new Dotty to go back and appear a lot older and be played by someone in their 20s.

"Of course I would have loved to have returned to EastEnders, but I believe everything happens for a reason."

Dotty will find herself at the centre of a major Christmas storyline next week.

She is currently trying to swindle Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) out of the money her grandmother Dot left her.

Fans of the BBC soap will have to wait and see if Dotty gets away with her sick scam alongside her dodgy uncle Tommy Cotton (Brian Conley).

Lauren Branning

Lauren first arrived in Albert Square in 2006 played by Madeline Duggan.

The actress played the role of Max and Tanya's eldest child from 2006 until 2010.

Since leaving the soap, the actress starred in feature film Everyone's Going To Die.

In April 2020, she revealed that she was now working part-time in a doctor's surgery because "being an out of work actress doesn't pay".

Madeline joined a supergroup of celebrities called The Celebs last year, which included sportsman Frank Bruno and X Factor winner Sam Bailey, to raise money for both Alzheimer's Society and Action for Children.

They recorded a new rendition of Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin' Stevens and it was released digitally back in December 2020 on independent record label Saga Entertainment.

The music video debuted exclusively on Good Morning Britain the day before release. The song peaked at number two on the iTunes pop chart.

Following Madeline's exit, the role of Lauren was later recast by Jacqueline Jossa, who played the character for eight years.

Jacqueline has often teased her return to EastEnders leaving fans in suspense, but she is currently busy looking after her two daughters with husband Dan Osborne.

Peter Beale

Peter has been played by seven actors since being introduced in 1993.

Francis Brittin-Snell portrayed the role from 1993 to 1996, followed by Alex Stevens from 1997 to 1998 and Joseph Shade from 1998 to 2004.

James Martin took over and played the role from 2004 to 2006 and he was played by Thomas Law from 2006 until 2010, when the character departed the series.

In April 2013, it was announced that Peter would return played by Ben Hardy, who made his first appearance in 2013.

The actor announced his departure from the role in 2014, making his final on-screen appearance the following year.

In December 2019, it was announced that the character would be returning, played by Dayle Hudson.

Peter returned on 18 February 2020, during the show's 35th anniversary week.

Actor Thomas, who was the fourth person to played the role, looks completely different from his EastEnders days.

He has previously shared snaps of his ripped body transformation on his social media pages, sending his fans wild with how much he has changed.

Hardy has also gone on to become a Hollywood superstar landing a role in X-Men: Apocalypse and Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Lucy Beale

Lucy Beale, Peter's twin sister, was played by four actress between 1993 and her tragic death in 2015.

The character was played by Eva Brittin-Snell from 1993 until 1996, Casey Anne Rothery from 1996 until 2004, Melissa Suffield from 2004 to 2010 and Hetti Bywater from 2012 to 2015.

From 2004, when the role was recast to actress Melissa, storylines featuring Lucy focused upon her teenage rebellion.

In 2010, Suffield left EastEnders, after she was allegedly axed due to "unruly behaviour."

On 14 November 2011, it was announced Lucy would be returning in 2012 with Hetti taking over the role.

It was announced in 2014 that Lucy would be murdered, starting a dark chapter for the Beale family and a whodunnit storyline that would run until the show's 30th anniversary in February 2015.

Fans later found out that Lucy's 10-year-old half-brother Bobby was her killer, after 10 months of secrecy regarding her demise.

The character reappeared as hallucinations in 2019 and 2020, portrayed by a body double and using archive footage.

Since leaving the show, Melissa has welcomed her first child and regularly posts body positive snaps online.

Hetti has gone on to appear in two episodes of the first series of the drama on Sky One, Delicious and BBC's Death in Paradise.

Janine Butcher

EastEnders fans will be gobsmacked to know that Janine Butcher hasn't always been played by soap actress Charlie Brooks.

The character was played by Rebecca Michael from 1989 to 1993, Alexia Demetriou from 1993 to 1996 and Charlie Brooks from 1999 onwards.

Charlie initially departed in 2004 but she returned for a three episode guest stint in April 2008 before returning permanently in December of that year.

The former I'm A Celebrity winner later took a break from September 2012 until April 2013, then departed again on 20 March 2014.

In April 2021, it was announced that Charlie will reprise the role once again for a "huge storyline" and she returned September this year.

Since leaving the BBC soap, actress Rebecca has become a director of global marketing for Google Search, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She is now based in California, and probably won’t be making a return to acting.

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on BBC One

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