Natalie Cassidy to return to EastEnders
Actress Natalie Cassidy is to return to EastEnders, seven years after she left the BBC One soap.
The 30-year-old will reprise her role as Sonia Fowler when she returns to Albert Square in January, accompanied by the character's daughter, Rebecca.
The BBC said the actress would be part of a "gripping storyline" involving the women of the Butcher household.
Cassidy said she was "extremely excited and honoured to be making a full-time return" to the soap.
"I feel so lucky as an actress to get back to my roots," she said.
"It's such an exciting time for the show - I cannot wait to work with Patsy [Palmer] and Lindsey [Coulson] again. Bring it on."
The actress, who first appeared on the programme in 1993, has made occasional guest appearances on the soap since her original departure.
She returned for a small number of episodes in February 2010 and appeared in a single episode in 2011.
During her 14 years on the show, viewers saw Sonia at the centre of numerous dramas.
She gave birth to Rebecca after failing to realise she was pregnant and then put her up for adoption.
She and the baby's father, Martin Fowler, later regained custody and moved to Manchester,
However Sonia's future return to Walford will reveal how their relationship has been on the rocks.
Cassidy is the latest addition to the EastEnders cast under new executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins, who recently recruited Danny Dyer to play the new landlord of the Queen Vic.