EastEnders star Jo Joyner reveals the reason she returned as Tanya Cross for dramatic Christmas episodes

The actress explains why she really made her comeback

It was a HUGE Christmas over on EastEnders after Lauren and Abi Branning dramatically fell from the Queen Vic roof and are now fighting for their lives in hospital.

But while the sister's fate currently hangs in the balance, there was some good news as viewers were delighted to see Jo Joyner back on their screens - even if it wasn't in the best circumstance.

On Christmas day, Jo returned as the girls’ mum Tanya Cross and was forced to look on in horror as her kids - played by Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald - took a terrifying tumble.

Despite being a massive hit with viewers, it turns out that busy actress Jo almost didn't make a comeback and was convinced to film the intense scenes by writer, Simon Ashdown.

"He called me and said: 'how do you feel about coming back for Christmas, for a special?'", Jo told The Metro.

"I said 'I’m not sure there’s anything in it for me, if I come back, I’ll come back properly, I don’t know that there’s any point just dipping in'.”

With 10 episodes of Shakespeare & Hathaway to film before the festive season and then 12 episodes of Ackley Bridge until the following summer, busy-bee Jo admitted she didn't think she could fit the 'Enders filming in. But after she was told Jacqueline and Lorna were going to be leaving, the 40-year-old had a change of heart.

"There’s a funny thing about that place that makes you feel very connected and protective over your family," she said.

"You genuinely feel responsible for them. When I thought that the girls might be leaving, I felt like I should be there for them.

"I’ve watched Lorna grow from a little 10 year old sweetie into a beautiful and talented woman. Jacqueline has been such a pleasure to work with and I love her to bits. I couldn’t say no to being involved in their exit stories. So I said yes."

She then added: "But it was hard as I was filming full time on Shakespeare so I had to give up my Saturdays for them which turned out to be night shoots with the rain machine. A lot of long 6/7 day weeks in the cold. I must really love that family!"

Following her return, Jo later took to Twitter to thank her fans for all their kind support, writing: "Merry Christmas to all! Judging by my timeline it was worth all the Saturdays in the rain. Thanks for all the love guys. It’s only a visit but stay with us..... are my girls alright? #EastEnders".

We'll have to wait until 8pm and 9:30pm tonight to find out Lauren and Abi's fate!