EastEnders confirms Branning family recasting in return story

EastEnders spoilers follow.

EastEnders has confirmed that the character Penny Branning is returning — but with a recasting.

Rising star Kitty Castledine will be taking over the role of Jack Branning's long-lost daughter for the first time in 15 years, with Penny having previously lived in France with her mum Selina Branning.

The potentially uncomfortable reunion between Penny – who is paralysed from the waist down –and dad Jack will be tied into the long-awaited return of Jack's niece Lauren.

eastenders penny and lauren branning

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Kitty Castledine's casting in the BBC One soap will be her first TV role, after she graduated from the London Academy of Music and Drama (LAMDA) over the summer.

"I didn’t expect to start my EastEnders journey so soon out of drama school – I can’t actually believe it! My whole family are EastEnders fans, and I remember sitting on my Nanny Kay’s lap to tune in – and now they get to watch me in Albert Square," Kitty has said.

"The inclusion of disabled talent on screen is so important to me as a wheelchair user, so I’m thrilled to be playing a character as feisty and cool as Penny. She’s thrown into the middle of the drama straight away, and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to.”

Producer Chris Clenshaw has hinted that Penny may be "a very different person from the one our viewers might remember" once she turns up on screens.

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"Kitty is a terrific addition to the show, and we’re looking forward to seeing Penny back in Albert Square," she said.

The character was previously played by Mia McKenna-Bruce, who has gone on to appear in the Netflix film Persuasion and the Cannes Film Festival hit How to Have Sex.

The news comes hot on the heels of confirmation that Jacqueline Jossa will be back on screens as Lauren, following a cameo earlier this year to reintroduce Cindy Beale, Ian Beale and Peter Beale.

During a recent Q&A with fans, Jacqueline confirmed that her upcoming return would be on a full-time basis this time around.

jacqueline jossa as lauren branning in eastenders
Nicky Johnston - BBC

"It's as permanent as anyone there is permanent," she told fans. "Obviously, you can get written out at any time, but yeah. It's not a flying visit this time, it's back back. I think it's been so good recently. I'm actually worried to come back and ruin it."

EastEnders airs on Mondays - Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer.

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