EastEnders — all your questions about Cindy Beale's return answered

Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale in EastEnders
Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale in EastEnders. (Image credit: BBC)

There's nothing soap fans love more than the return of an iconic character, so when Cindy Beale returned to EastEnders viewers were on the edge of their seats. 

But where has Cindy been for the last 25 years? Are Peter and Ian both coming back to Walford too? And how long until she is back on our screens again? 

Here is everything we know so far about Cindy's long-awaited return to Walford... 

Where has Cindy been for the last 25 years? 

In the extended episode of EastEnders on Thursday, June 22 we discovered that Cindy has been living under the name Rose Knight after going into witness protection back in 1998 when she gave the police information on her prison cellmate. 

At the time, Cindy was pregnant with her daughter, Cindy Jr, and was serving time for hiring a hitman to kill her husband, Ian. But when baby Cindy was born, Ian was told that his wife had died in childbirth in jail... but crucially he never saw a body. 

George Knight in the Queen Vic

Cindy - or should we say Rose - was married to George and the pair had two daughters, Gina and Anna.  (Image credit: BBC)

Since starting a new life as Rose, Cindy ended up in Marbella and met George Knight. The pair got married and had two daughters, Gina and Anna.

But nine years ago, Cindy/Rose left her family once again, and is now living in France with Ian and selling baguettes on a market stall.

Speaking about when she heard the twist that Cindy was still alive and in witness protection, Michelle said she was thrilled: "I said to my agent, ‘oh this is ridiculous, it’s never going to happen’. But we went to meet Chris [Clenshaw, EastEnders Executive producer] And we had a breakfast meeting where he got his laptop out and he reeled it all off. And we both went ‘wow, oh my god — maybe this could work'. 

"I was really excited. I listen to a lot of podcasts about witness protection and it’s not that far removed from what it’s like. She’s complex, obviously she’s incredibly complex but she’s not the same as before."

Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale and Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in EastEnders

They're back! Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale and Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale. (Image credit: BBC)

Are Cindy and Ian a couple again? 

Yes! Although it remains a mystery how Cindy and Ian got back in touch off screen, the pair are now once again a couple and living in a sleepy French village together with their son, Peter. 

Is Peter coming back to Walford? 

Yes, following his surprise appearance in the episode that aired on Thursday, June 22, Peter Beale is making his way back to Walford alongside parents Ian and Cindy later this summer as Thomas Law reprises the role.

Long-time EastEnders fans will remember Thomas played the role of Peter between 2006 and 2010, appearing before Ben Hardy (2013 – 2015) and most recently Dayle Hudson who played the role between 2020 and 2022. 

Speaking of his return, Thomas said: “Over the years, I had hoped for a return to the Square although I never thought it would happen so it’s an absolute delight to be back in Walford as Peter Beale. It’s been great to see familiar and new faces, and I can’t wait to explore the character again in the wake of Cindy’s return — it’s an exciting time to return!"

Thomas Law as Peter Beale in EastEnders

Thomas Law is back as Peter Beale in EastEnders.  (Image credit: BBC)

Is Lauren coming back to Walford?

Sadly not. While Adam Woodyatt, Michelle Collins and Thomas Law are all reprising their roles as Ian, Cindy and Peter, Jacqueline Jossa's appearance as Lauren Branning in the episode that aired on Thursday, June 22 was just a guest role. 

Jacqueline has been known to reprise her role as Lauren on numerous occasions, most recently returning to Walford for Dot Branning's funeral earlier this year, so you never know, we might see her in Albert Square again one day soon. 

Michelle Collins and Adam Woodyatt as Cindy and Ian Beale in EastEnders

Cindy and Ian have had more than their fair share of drama... will they find happiness this time around? (Image credit: BBC)

When will Cindy and Ian arrive in Walford? 

It was revealed at a recent press event that the scenes set in France were filmed in May 2023, but Adam Woodyatt and Michelle Collins have now returned to EastEnders studios and are back filming on the iconic Walford set. It has been confirmed that Ian and Cindy will be back on our screens 'later this summer'. 

Speaking about returning to Albert Square after three years away, Adam said: "The weirdest thing for me was that since I’ve been gone they’ve rebuilt the lot. I got out of the car and said ‘where’s the Square?’ It’s just disappeared. But the nicest thing is just going back to see all the faces."

Michelle added: "I have to be taken around because I have no idea where I’m going. But that’s what makes it exciting in a way!"

And there's more...

There are so many other questions... but it seems we might have to wait for Cindy and Ian to arrive in Walford before we get any more answers. 

How did Ian know that Cindy was still alive and how did they get back together? Where did Peter fit into it all? Why did Cindy walk out on Anna and Gina? And most of all, how is Cindy going to react when she arrives in Walford and comes face to face with Bobby... her daughter's killer?! 

We will keep this article updated so keep checking back for everything you need to know about Cindy's return. 

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm on BBC One — see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now. 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.