EastEnders has announced Chelsea Fox is returning to Walford after a decade away – but you’ll be forgiven for not recognising her when she arrives back in Albert Square.
The character is the latest in a long line to be recast, with Zaraah Abrahams succeeding Tiana Benjamin in the role of Denise Fox’s eldest daughter.
Chelsea was last seen in 2010 when she went to live with her grandmother, unable to cope with being known as the step-daughter of serial killer Lucas Johnson.
While it is currently unknown what brings Chelsea back to the Square, her recast has got us to thinking about all the other times EastEnders bosses gave a character a different head...
Played by: Charlie Jones (2006–10), Joshua Pascoe (2010–12), Harry Reid (2014–2018) and Max Bowden (2019–)
Two other actors also played the youngster back in the ’90s, but since returning to Albert Square when Kathy Beale “died” in 2006, these four stars have been tasked with portraying as her and Phil’s troubled son.
Played by: Madeline Duggan (2006–10), Jacqueline Jossa (2010–2018)
While Jacqueline certainly made the role of Lauren her own, Madeline was the original actor to play her when the Brannings rocked up in Albert Square in 2006. Under Jacqueline’s careful watch, Lauren took centre stage in a number of key storylines, including battling alcoholism, figuring out who killed her best friend and even falling from the roof of the Queen Vic.
Played by: Alex Francis (2007–12), Rory Stroud (2013–14), Eliot Carrington (2014–2017) and Clay Milner Russell (2019–)
Yes, we know - we should have solved the ‘Who killed Lucy Beale?’ case when Bobby was randomly recast as the plot kicked off. The Beale family have proven difficult for the soap’s bosses, and all of Ian’s kids have been recast at least once. Kevin Curran also starred as Bobby when he was a tot.
Played by: Melissa Suffield (2004–10) and Hetti Bywater (2012–15)
Another two actresses also played Lucy in her younger years, but it’s Melissa and Hetti that fans will remember. Hetti was only in the role for less than three years, but the impact of her murder in 2015 is still a topic regularly revisited on the soap to this day.
Played by: David Scarboro (1985–87) and Todd Carty (1990–2003)
Todd took over as the son of Pauline and Arthur Fowler, following David’s sad death. The character went on to become one of Walford’s most-loved residents, and when Todd left to the soap in 2003, it was an emotional goodbye as Mark set out on an adventure after being told his HIV medication was no longer working. The character later died off screen in 2004.
Played by: Danniella Westbrook (1990–2000), Kim Medcalf (2002–05) and Danniella (2009–10, 2016)
After a high-profile battle with drug addiction, EastEnders bosses recast Danniella’s role as Sam in 2002, with Kim Medcalf playing her until 2005. But then in one of the most high-profile recastings soapland has ever seen, Sam morphed back into Danniella when the character returned in 2009.
Played by: Jon Peyton-Price (1985–96), James Alexandrou (1996–2007) and James Bye (2014–)
James II took over the role when Martin returned to the Square in 2014. While it initially took fans a while to get used to the change, James II has transformed the character into one of the show’s most popular, who has been involved in some huge plots over the last six years.
Played by: Susan Tully (1985–1995) and Jenna Russell (2016–2018)
Much less successful, however, was the recasting of Martin’s elder sister Michelle, who returned to Albert Square after a 20-year absence with a brand new head. Viewers struggled to accept someone else playing the iconic character, and Jenna left the soap after less than two years in the role.
Played by: Zahra Ahmadi (2007–08) and Rakhee Thakrar (2014–2016)
Rakhee’s starred in a number of emotional storylines after taking over the role of Masood and Zainab’s daughter, with the character’s stillbirth making for some of the most tear-jerking soap scenes of 2015.
Played by: Harry Hickles (2012–15) and Bleu Landau (2015–2020)
Prior to Bleu taking over the role of Dennis, Sharon’s son had spent a lot of time in his bedroom and rarely featured in storylines. But the character was later involved in one of the show’s biggest ever plots in 2020, when he was killed off in the dramatic boat crash as part of EastEnders’ 35th anniversary episodes.
Played by: Jo Warne (1991) and Barbara Windsor (1994–2010, 2013, 2016)
Recognise this Mitchell matriarch? Nope, thought not. This is Jo Warne, who starred as Peggy Mitchell in 1991, before being replaced by soap icon Barbara Windsor. Can you imagine an ‘EastEnders’ without Babs? Nope. Us neither.
Played by: Every actor in existence.
Thomas Law and Ben Hardy are just two in a long line of Peter Beales, as a whooping seven actors have tackled the role. With Ben now busy cracking Hollywood, Dayle Hudson became the latest star to portray Ian’s eldest son when the character made a welcome return in 2020.