Samantha Womack to reprise role of Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders following baby swap plot drama

 

Samantha Womack is to return to EastEnders two years after featuring in a controversial storyline that left her so stressed she needed to take a break.

The actress who plays Ronnie Mitchell will start filming again for the programme in the summer as viewers see her head back to Walford after her release from prison.

Ronnie was locked up in a plot which saw her abduct Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) and Alfie Moon's (Shane Ritchie) baby Tommy, replacing him with her own baby who had died in a cot death.

The soap had almost 9,000 complaints from viewers, leading to the plot being wrapped up early, while Womack left EastEnders because of feeling exhausted - even chopping off and recolouring her familiar blonde hair on leaving.

At the time she said she did not want her children to see her final scenes in case it upset them. "I did find the storyline very, very difficult to play. It was draining emotionally and physically and by the end I was shattered," she said in an interview at the time.

Womack told Hello! magazine: "I worked out I'd been crying or screaming at work every day for six days a week for over two years. Can you imagine how exhausting and tiring that is? You're crying, weeping and telling your brain something awful has happened, so of course that is going to affect you and your body. My brain may know I am acting, but my body was doing a different thing. I needed to stop and find peace, a bit like Ronnie."

The actress, who began working on the soap in 2007 and left in July 2011, is returning to Albert Square following her release, throwing ex-husband Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) into confusion.

Womack said: "I am thrilled to be returning to the role of Ronnie for the next six months. Ronnie is coming out of prison and her re-appearance in the Square is going to create havoc. I can't wait to be a Mitchell once again."

Gary Lucy will also be returning to the BBC1 soap as Danny Pennant.

PA

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