It's the moment EastEnders fans have been waiting seven years for — legendary Janine Butcher will soon be back on our screens and soap bosses have promised that she is going to be more scheming than ever before.
Charlie Brooks, who has played the Walford baddie since 1999 was last seen in Albert Square as Janine in 2014... but now she is back, and Charlie couldn't be more excited: "My agent called and straight away something feels right about this. I always think about where Janine’s been and what she’s been up to. To have the chance to come back and explore that is really exciting."
Viewers last saw Janine leave the Square after getting away with killing Michael Moon, the father of her daughter, Scarlett. But has Janine continued her life of crime away from Walford? Or could she have turned over a new leaf? Don't count on it!
"I’ve had so many different thoughts about what she has been doing," admits Charlie. "I've imagined her as a hippy on the beach trying to redeem herself, then I imagined her really really bad where she couldn’t redeem herself.
"She’s so much fun, love the idea of walking in her shoes for a day. I want to go out with Janine for the night, she’d be fun! I get to play out my wild side through this fantastic character. I feel really blessed."
And while there are some residents on Albert Square who have never met Janine, there are also some who shudder at the mere mention of her name, starting with Kate Slater...
"To start with all my filming was with Jessie Wallace (who plays Kat), which was great. It's so weird when you’ve worked so closely with so many people for such a long time, then you go away and life gets in the way, and then you come back and it's a bit like a school reunion but better."
Janine returns to Walford desperate to get Scarlett back home, so Janine appeals to Kat to let her take her daughter - but with so much history between the two, there are bound to be fireworks, admits Charlie: "We know that it’s going to be explosive. We might see some flames, a big fire, and her put-downs and wit are better than ever.
"The writers have done a brilliant job of writing for her and I read the scripts and go ‘Oh my god, can she say that? Oh my god, I love it!’ It’s fun and that’s what I’m excited about exploring with her as well as all of the layered stuff that goes on underneath."
EastEnders airs Mondays at 8.05pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.35pm and Fridays at 8.30pm on BBC One - see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also watch all of this week’s episodes on BBC iPlayer now.
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.
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