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Scott Maslen has reprised his role of Jack Branning in EastEnders in a development that was kept under wraps before transmission.

Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack) was left speechless when her ex-husband showed up at The Albert to wish her a Merry Christmas in tonight’s (24 December) episode

“Our special Christmas Eve #EastEnders is tonight at 2030hrs. You’re going to want to watch this doof doof LIVE…” the soap’s Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins teased in a tweet ahead of the episode.

“It’s been kept a secret for some time. I had a meeting with Dominic (executive producer) and the casting director (Julia Crampsie) … It was quite a few months back now. EastEnders is a home away from home for me. I’d been away for a good couple of years but I felt very good about the return. I felt refreshed and recharged and had missed the people I worked with. There’s a whole new bunch of cast there now and new management so everything’s changed so it’s exciting to go back. The show’s got lots of exciting things going on at the moment. It was like coming back to my family.

 

“A few people like my family knew but I had to say don’t say anything. It’s going to be interesting seeing the response because I don’t think anyone’s expecting it. I’m constantly getting tweets saying they want Ronnie and Jack back together so it will be good to see how everyone reacts.” – Scott Maslen

How Ronnie reacts to Jack after his two year hiatus from Walford remains to be seen. She is also contending with a feud with Vincent Hubbard (Richard Blackwood) in the show’s current plots. Jack’s return came just as Ronnie received text message confirmation that an action she had initiated against Vincent – locking him in the boot of a car at The Arches – had been carried out.

“He’s actually back to see his daughter. Everyone will probably think he’s back for Ronnie but that wasn’t his initial plan. Of course if Ronnie and Jack see each other then something’s going to happen. As much as they avoid each other, as soon as they see each other things tend to spark off and that’s the case here. It shows they are destined to be together. But it’s riddled with complexities as EastEnders is. It’s not straightforward. It will be interesting because he has no idea what’s been going on with Ronnie. He’s just come back to see his daughter and is innocent to what’s been going on. He’s not stupid though and knows when Ronnie is performing. So he’s back to see his daughter but ends up spending time trying to work out what’s going on with Ronnie.” – Scott Maslen

Maslen previously played the role of Jack between 2007-2013 with the character being most notable for his on/off romance with Ronnie and a long-running feud with his brother Max, made more contentious by Jack entering into a relationship with former sister-in-law Tanya. He had a string of flings with other Walford females including one night stands with Ronnie’s sister Roxy and cousin Sam which left both women pregnant. Other notable storylines saw him shot by a member of a gang his nephew Billie Jackson was involved with and he and Ronnie lose their baby son James to cot death with Jack spending several months unaware that Ronnie had swapped the baby for Kat and Alfie’s son Tommy.

The actor cited a desire to pursue new projects when revealing his decision to leave the show in February 2013.

“It felt great [to be a part of EastEnders Christmas]. You sometimes don’t realise how big an institution the show is at Christmas. People sit down with their families and watch it together, it’s a big event. So it felt good to be asked to come back for this time of year.” – Scott Maslen

 EastEnders continues tomorrow (25 December) with its hour-long Christmas special at 8.45pm on BBC One.

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