Soap cast changes 2021 - Who's leaving, returning and joining

Soap Movers: Who's leaving, returning and joining in EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks?

We've got Aussie soaps Neighbours and Home and Away covered too.

With the soap world as busy as ever for comings and goings, here's our Soap Movers page as we keep track of all the new arrivals, shock exits and returning characters that we can look forward to over the coming weeks and months.

Our list covers EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Neighbours, Home and Away, Casualty and Holby City – so bookmark us and keep checking back for the latest updates as they come in.

Latest update: April 13 2021

EastEnders

Nancy Carter (Maddy Hill)

eastenders, maddy hill, nancy carter
BBC

Status: Returning

When: April 13

More info: EastEnders bosses have announced that Maddy Hill is reprising her role as Nancy Carter after nearly five years away from the Square.

"I'm so excited to be coming back and reconnecting with all the hilarious, warm, talented cast and crew and meeting some lovely new faces," she said. "I absolutely loved playing Nancy and have often wondered what she's up to, so feel very grateful to be able to rediscover her five years on."

EastEnders' executive producer Jon Sen added: "We're delighted to have Maddy back and I can't wait for audiences to see what's in store for Nancy. There's a lot of mystery surrounding her return and she's coming back to a family that have been through a very difficult year – things are definitely not as Nancy left them.

"Maddy is a fantastic actor and we feel very lucky to have her back in Walford."

Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy)

sonia fowler in eastenders
Jack BarnesBBC

Status: Returning

When: April 2021

More info: Fan favourite Sonia Fowler was off our screens for a while in the early part of 2021, as Natalie Cassidy took a break from the role.

Emotional scenes saw Sonia make the decision to visit her daughter Bex in India, realising that she needed time out after struggles working at the hospital amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Natalie returned to filming in February and Sonia will reappear on screen this month.

Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami)

ruby allen in eastenders
Kieron McCarron/Jack BarnesBBC

Status: Leaving

When: April 2021

More info: In September 2020, EastEnders chiefs announced that Davood Ghadami would be leaving his role as Kush Kazemi after six years in the BBC soap.

Announcing Kush's exit, an EastEnders spokesperson told Digital Spy: "We can confirm Davood will be leaving EastEnders when his contract comes to an end. Davood has been a wonderful addition to EastEnders and we wish him all the best for the future."

Kate Oates, head of continuing drama at the BBC, added: "Davood is a fantastic actor and a hugely popular company member, so we will miss him hugely."

Davood filmed his final scenes on March 5 and will bow out this month.

Estelle (Sue Holderness)

eastenders, sue holdernress, estelle
BBC

Status: Joining

When: April 2021

More info: Former Only Fools and Horses star Sue Holderness has joined the cast of EastEnders for a guest stint as Estelle, who's a possible new love interest for Billy Mitchell.

Estelle oversees a photoshoot for Janet Mitchell in an upcoming storyline, but her attention shifts to Billy. Unfortunately, not everyone is as enthralled by Estelle as Billy is.

Sue recently commented: "I was absolutely delighted to have been given the chance to visit Walford. It felt very surreal to be popping into the actual fish and chip shop, Ruby's club, The Queen Vic, and wandering around the iconic Albert Square.

"I was ridiculously excited about the whole thing! After more than 50 years in the business, it was my first time working on a soap and I loved the whole experience."

Violet Highway (Gwen Taylor)

eastenders, gwen taylor as violet
BBC

Status: Joining

When: Spring 2021

More info: Former Coronation Street and Duty Free actress Gwen Taylor has joined the cast of EastEnders in the role of Violet Highway, the grandmother of Stuart and Callum.

Described as a "straight talking" character who has no qualms about putting people in their place, Violet will arrive on Albert Square in the run-up to Callum and Ben's wedding.

Gwen commented: "I remember when the first episodes of EastEnders launched and I was desperate to be in it, now after all these years, here I am playing a wonderful character.

"It's fantastic and the cast are great, everybody has treated me so well and I feel extremely welcome."

Executive producer Jon Sen added: "Having Gwen join the show is an honour, she's the perfect actress to play the multi-faceted Violet Highway, a grandmother not to be messed with.

"Stuart and Callum are sure to find this out the hard way when she arrives in Walford for Callum's big day and they'll no doubt be wanting her visit to be fleeting but Violet definitely has other ideas. We welcome Gwen to Walford and look forward to the audience watching her make her mark."

Terry Cant (Brian Conley)

brian conley as terry cant in eastenders
BBC

Status: Joining

When: Early 2021

More info: Actor and television presenter Brian Conley will be taking on the EastEnders role of Terry Cant, the long-lost father of Sonia.

Show bosses have described Terry as the "ultimate people pleaser", who wastes no time before charming the local residents as he makes himself at home. But will Sonia warm to him?

Speaking about joining the cast of EastEnders, Brian said: "As you can imagine being a Londoner and now being part of EastEnders is such an incredible moment for me. I know for sure my dad's looking down from above and saying 'Good on yer son!'

"It was always his favourite programme. So in so many ways it really is an honour to be part of such an iconic show and to be working with an incredibly talented team on camera and off. I cannot wait to order my first pint at The Queen Vic."

Mo Harris (Laila Morse)

laila morse as mo harris in eastenders
Nicky JohnstonBBC

Status: Leaving

When: 2021

More info: In February this year, it was revealed that Laila Morse had decided to bow out from her role as Mo Harris.

Laila made the choice as she plans to move to Spain, but she has assured fans that the door will be left open for Mo to make returns for particular storylines.

Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt)

ian beale in eastenders
Kieron McCarron/Jack BarnesBBC

Status: Returning

When: TBC

More info: Adam Woodyatt is taking an extended break from his role as Ian Beale this year.

Recent scenes saw Ian leave Walford a broken man after discovering that his vengeful wife Sharon was trying to kill him. He'll be back at a later date, but only time will tell whether he can ever move on from his recent traumas.

Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner)

eastenders, stacey
BBC

Status: Returning

When: TBC

More info: In September 2020, Lacey Turner shared the happy news that she and husband Matt Kay were expecting another baby together.

Lacey, who's already mum to one-year-old Dusty, gave birth to her baby son Trilby Fox in February and is now on maternity leave from EastEnders. On-screen in the show, Stacey has received a one-year prison sentence after being falsely accused of pushing Ruby Allen down the stairs at the club.

Coronation Street

Sharon Bentley (Tracie Bennett)

tracie bennett as sharon bentley, coronation street
ITV

Status: Returning

When: April 21

More info: Tracie Bennett has signed up to reprise her Corrie role as Rita Tanner's foster daughter Sharon Bentley. She originally played the part between 1982 and 1984, and returned in 1999.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to the cobbles," Tracie said. "It is a dream come true for me.

"I had such an amazing time there, and I am looking forward to working with Barbara [Knox] again and getting my teeth into the storylines they have planned for Sharon.

"I was first approached about coming back about 18 months ago. I was keen and excited to see what was in store, but my work schedule and then the pandemic has meant that it has taken till now for it all to come together.

"I am so pleased that I can finally tell everyone as it has been hard trying to keep the secret."

Stefan Brent (Paul Opacic)

hollyoaks carl costello
Lime Pictures

Status: Joining

When: Early 2021

More info: Former Emmerdale and Hollyoaks actor Paul Opacic has joined the cast of Coronation Street as Stefan Brent, who's the father of bad boy Corey.

Stefan is expected to go head-to-head with Dev Alahan, who disapproves of his daughter Asha's decision to start dating Corey again.

Dylan Wilson (Liam McCheyne)

antony cotton and liam mccheyne as sean tully and dylan wilson in coronation street
ITV

Status: Returning

When: Early 2021

More info: Sean's son Dylan returned to the cobbles for a guest stint in late 2020, and was later back on screen again with the news that he was being bullied in school. When he next returns to Weatherfield, it'll be on a permanent basis.

Antony Cotton, who plays Sean, told Digital Spy and other media: "He's going to come back full-time. We'll see it in stages, as Sean gets used to Dylan being around.

"I can't wait for it, as it gives me a totally different dynamic. I'm hoping we're going to become a little duo and it is completely unique."

Emmerdale

Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick)

emmerdale   vanessa woodfield
ITV

Status: Returning

When: TBC

More info: Michelle is currently on maternity leave from Emmerdale after welcoming a baby boy with her wife Kate Brooks.

Her character Vanessa is expected to return to the village at a later date.

Kerry Wyatt (Laura Norton)

kerry wyatt in emmerdale
ITV

Status: Returning

When: TBC

More info: Laura also took leave from Emmerdale following the happy news that she and her partner Mark Jordon were expecting a child together.

Laura and Mark welcomed baby boy Jesse in January.

Hollyoaks

TBC (Curtis Pritchard)

aj and curtis pritchard
David M. BenettGetty Images

Status: Joining

When: Early 2021

More info: Former Strictly Come Dancing pro AJ Pritchard and his Love Island star brother Curtis have both joined the cast of Hollyoaks. AJ recently made his first appearance as Marco, a troublesome dance rival from Trish Minniver's past.

Marco's twin brother, played by Curtis, will appear at a later date.

Curtis said: "I am so excited to be working with my brother AJ on a show we grew up watching! I am also excited to continue our journey together with Channel 4 and E4."

Leela Lomax (Kirsty-Leigh Porter)

leela lomax in hollyoaks
Ray Burmiston / Channel 4Lime Pictures

Status: Returning

When: TBC

More info: Kirsty-Leigh is currently on a maternity break from Hollyoaks after welcoming a baby with her partner Paul Barber.

Leela made a brief return for Hollyoaks' New Year episode, which resolved storylines set up in the flashforward episode 12 months earlier.

Neighbours

Jesse Porter (Cameron Robbie)

cameron robbie as jesse in neighbours
Channel 5

Status: Joining

When: April 19 (UK pace)

More info: Neighbours bosses have announced that Margot Robbie's brother Cameron will be joining the cast for a guest stint. The actor, model and presenter will be playing the role of Jesse Porter, who arrives in Erinsborough to take on a new job at Lassiters.

Asked whether Margot had given him any advice about life on Neighbours, Cameron replied: "Margot, like many of my industry friends or go-to professionals, say a similar thing of work hard, train hard, be kind and grateful, and enjoy the experience.

"But it's always comforting to know that if I ever need her, she's only a phone call away."

Dipi Rebecchi (Sharon Johal)

dipi rebecchi, amy greenwood and shane rebecchi in neighboursin neighbours
FremantleChannel 5

Status: Leaving

When: April 28 (UK-pace)

More info: Sharon Johal has also announced her departure from the role of Dipi Rebecchi. She has played Dipi since 2017.

In a statement released on Instagram, Sharon explained: "I am so utterly grateful for the opportunity and 'break' this iconic show has given me. A show that has run for 35yrs+ requires no commentary, it speaks for itself.

"I have learnt and grown so much in this time technically, professionally but also mentally as this job is rewarding yet challenging in so many ways."

Shane Rebecchi (Nicholas Coghlan)

nicholas coghlan as shane rebecchi in neighbours
Channel 5

Status: Leaving

When: April 28 (UK-pace)

More info: Shane will also be leaving Ramsay Street, as he departs with Dipi to start a new life in Sydney.

Nicholas Coghlan's departure from the role was first announced at the end of March.

Sheila Canning (Shareena Clanton)

shareena clanton
Don ArnoldGetty Images

Status: Joining

When: May 2021

More info: Wentworth star Shareena Clanton recently made her first Neighbours appearance in Australian episodes, playing a 'second' Sheila Canning. Her first scenes will air in the UK in May.

The storyline sees Colette Mann's established character Sheila forced to face the music after receiving some surprising gifts and giving them away to her friends. It's soon revealed that Sheila has accidentally been stealing post from another person called Sheila Canning.

Lucas Fitzgerald (Scott Major)

scott major as lucas fitzgerald in neighbours
FremantleMediaChannel 5

Status: Returning

When: May 2021 (UK-pace)

More info: Scott Major, who's now a regular director on Neighbours, will be returning on-screen to make a guest appearance as his character Lucas Fitzgerald.

Lucas reappears when some trouble at the garage leads to Bea being sacked for unprofessional behaviour.

Bea Nilsson (Bonnie Anderson)

bonnie anderson as bea nilsson in neighbours
Tina SmigielskiChannel 5

Status: Leaving

When: 2021

More info: Bonnie Anderson has announced that she's leaving her role as Bea Nilsson in order to pursue other projects.

Bonnie recently told the Sunday Herald Sun: "I have overcome a lot, I have grown and I am proud of the way I live my life.

"It was really good to have that structure and now after 3½ years on that show I have decided it is time for me to continue challenging myself and create space to focus on my music and songwriting and more acting."

Home and Away

Willow Harris (Sarah Roberts)

sarah roberts as willow harris in home and away
Channel 5

Status: Leaving

When: April (UK-pace)

More info: Sarah Roberts is bowing out from her role as Willow Harris after playing the popular character since 2017.

Sarah recently told TV Week magazine: "I can now reflect on myself within and outside of work. It'll be nice to work on myself for a bit. I need to step back, relax and breathe.

"I want to meditate, have family time, work out and enjoy life."

Rachel Young (Marny Kennedy)

marny kennedy
Getty Images

Status: Joining

When: 2021

More info: Marny Kennedy, who's best known for roles in Mortified and The Saddle Club, has been spotted filming scenes on location for Home and Away.

Her character Rachel Young will make her first appearance in Summer Bay later this year.

Logan Bennett (Harley Bonner)

home and away harley bonner as logan
Jeremy GreiveChannel 5

Status: Joining

When: 2021

More info: Former Neighbours star Harley Bonner has joined the cast of Home and Away to play Dr Logan Bennett, a trauma surgeon who arrives in Summer Bay for a life-saving intervention.

In the aftermath, Logan decides to stick around in the Bay to see his patient's journey through from start to finish.

Harley recently told 7 News: "It's been a while since I've had the privilege of working on a programme that's such a hallmark of Australian television.

"I'm happy to say I picked it back up a lot faster than expected. I really love working on shows like Home and Away, I love my character and I can't wait for Australia to meet him."

TBC (Jacqui Purvis)

melissa lohan arrives to see chloe brennan in neighbours
Channel 5

Status: Joining

When: 2021

More info: Jacqui Purvis, another former Neighbours star, has also recently been spotted filming on location for Home and Away.

Jacqui got up-close-and-personal with co-star Ethan Browne while shooting scenes on location at Palm Beach, sparking speculation that her character could be a new love interest for Tane Parata.

Casualty

Ciaran Coulson (Rick Warden)

ciaran coulson
BBC

Status: Returning

When: 2021

More info: Rick Warden's return to Casualty was revealed in a recent trailer for the BBC medical drama, which sees his character Ciaran Coulson make his mark once again after the departure of Connie as Clinical Lead.

Footage from an upcoming episode shows Ciaran arrive at the hospital and pointedly declare: "You know it's always such a pleasure coming here, it really is." But what are his plans for the hospital?

Holby City

No characters announced to be joining, leaving or returning at the moment.


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