EastEnders: Tamzin Outhwaite to return as Melanie Owen
Tamzin Outhwaite is returning to EastEnders after more than 15 years away from the show.
She's returning to Albert Square in her role as Melanie Owen, having made her first appearance in 1998.
An EastEnders spokeswoman confirmed she was coming back to the soap as a regular character.
Outhwaite, seen most recently in New Tricks, said: "EastEnders is in my DNA and I always knew deep down that someday I would revisit Mel."
Her first scenes will be broadcast in the new year.
EastEnders creative director John Yorke promised an "incredible storyline" that will "awaken a lot of old ghosts, some great memories, and a whole new series of adventures too".
He added: "We're thrilled and flattered to have Tamzin back and we can't wait to reveal just where she's been, and just who Melanie Owen is now."
Outhwaite said it was an "honour" to be asked back by Yorke, saying he "created Mel's most memorable storylines".
She added that her character is "a strong independent woman with lots more stories to tell.
"To be stepping back into Mel's shoes nearly twenty years after I first started feels just perfect."
Viewers last saw Mel in April 2002 when she left Walford following the death of her husband Steve Owen - played by Martin Kemp. She faced a prison sentence but then fled the country after Phil Mitchell put up £30,000 bail money.