West End star Declan Bennett to join EastEnders

Declan Bennett Singer-songwriter Declan Bennett has also appeared in musicals Taboo, Rent and Green Day's American Idiot

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Declan Bennett, star of West End show Once, is to join EastEnders as Dot Branning's grandson Charlie Cotton.

Bennett's character is the eldest son of Dot's wayward son, Nick Cotton.

"I'm delighted to be joining the cast of EastEnders, especially at what seems to be an extremely exciting time for the show," said Bennett.

Bennett will begin filming for the BBC One soap this month and can be seen on screen from March.

"June Brown (who plays Dot) is not only an incredible actress but has also created one of TV's most iconic characters," Bennett added.

"To be working alongside her is a dream come true."

EastEnders' executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said: "Declan is a genuinely raw, instinctive and intelligent actor.

"It's tremendously exciting for us to have him join our cast - and the double whammy of him and June Brown working together is going to be electric."

Bennett, who has had the lead role in Once since it opened last April, will remain on stage until 8 March.

The musical is based on the 2006 film, written and directed by John Carney and starring Irish musician Glen Hansard as the unnamed "Guy" and Marketa Irglova as the "Girl".

The main track from the film, Falling Slowly, won the 2007 Oscar for best original song.

Adapted for the stage by Enda Walsh, the show opened off Broadway in December 2011, before transferring to Broadway in February 2012.

The West End production has just been extended to July 2015. Bennett's replacement will be announced in due course.

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