Michelle Fowler made a surprise return to Albert Square in scenes just broadcast on BBC One, now played by Jenna Russell.
Michelle was previously played by Susan Tully from the show’s inception in 1985 and remained on the show for a decade before leaving in late 1995 after falling pregnant with Grant Mitchell’s son, Mark. Michelle has not been seen since and even missed her own mother, father and brother’s funerals.
For over 21 years soap bosses have been trying to lure Tully back to her role but she has since became a director and has opted not to return.
Michelle was reunited with her childhood best friend Sharon in tonight’s 35-minute episode.
On her new role, Russell said: “It is a great honour to play such an iconic character.
“I know the audience loved Michelle Fowler so much, and even though she hasn’t been on our screen for twenty years, she’s very much in the fans’ psyche.
“When I used to watch EastEnders all those years ago, she was one of my favourite characters. I’m extremely excited for what is in store for Michelle.”
Current executive producer of EastEnders Sean O’Connor said: “I am thrilled to have secured Jenna Russell to play Michelle Fowler, one of the show’s most celebrated characters. The Square really has missed her over the past 20 years.”
“Having worked with her before, Jenna was always in mind when I first started planning for Michelle’s return. I think the audience are going to take Michelle back into their hearts; still flawed, complicated and infuriating after two decades away, but still loveable all the same. It’s going to be appointment TV watching Michelle’s car crash of a life unravel all over again.”