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What happened to Penny Branning in EastEnders? Everything you need to know

 Penny Branning holding a baby.
Penny Branning holding a baby.

EastEndersPenny Branning returned to Walford alongside her cousin Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) on New Year's Day.

Jack Branning’s (Scott Maslen) daughter Penny is back on the Square after 15 years of living in France with her mum, Selina (Daisy Beaumont) — and she's already proven to be a troublemaker after kicking off a drug mule storyline on her way back from Paris.

Since leaving the Square 15 years ago, you may be wondering what happened to Penny Branning in EastEnders? And where did she go?

Here's a refresher on where the youngster went after her time in Walford as she makes her comeback...

Penny and Lauren Branning standing outside the Queen Vic pub in EastEnders
Penny and Lauren Branning standing outside the Queen Vic pub in EastEnders

What happened to Penny Branning in EastEnders?

Penny is the daughter of Jack and his first wife Selina and was only in the soap for a short while, appearing from January to April 2008.

Penny made her first appearance on the Square in January 2008, when Jack was dating Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack).

Jack revealed to Ronnie the shocking reason why Penny was in a wheelchair was because of his criminal activities as a corrupt police officer. Before his life in Walford, one of Jack's dodgy informants deliberately hit Penny with his car in revenge for being sent down.

Penny's spinal cord was severed during the ordeal and left her paralysed from the waist down.

During her short time on the Square, Penny and Ronnie struggled to bond, but she got on well with her aunt Tanya Cross (Jo Joyner).

In April 2008, Selina decided to move to France to be with her parents and take Penny with her, but during Penny's goodbye dinner cooked by Tanya, it was apparent that Penny didn't want to leave Walford behind.

However, Jack persuaded her to go to France with Selina.

Tanya Cross and Penny Branning
Tanya Cross and Penny Branning

Where did Penny Branning go?

Penny left Walford in April 2008 to live in France with her mum, Selina.

Penny Branning in EastEnders
Penny Branning in EastEnders

Who plays Penny Branning in EastEnders?

Penny was originally played by Mia McKenna-Bruce, who has since gone on to play Tee Taylor in CBBC's Tracy Beaker Returns and The Dumping Ground.

She's also acted in The Witcher, Netflix film Persuasion, the BBC series Get Even, Vampire Academy, Holby City, Last Train to Christmas and many more.

The role of Penny has now been recast, with rising star Kitty Castledine taking over the character in her first major television role after graduating from the London Academy of Music and Drama (LAMDA) this summer.

Speaking of joining the show, Kitty said: “I didn’t expect to start my EastEnders journey so soon out of drama school – I can’t 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.

"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.”

Penny Branning with her dad Jack
Penny Branning with her dad Jack

Is Kitty Castledine in a wheelchair for real?

Lauren Branning teams up with Penny Branning
Lauren Branning teams up with Penny Branning

Yes, Kitty Castledine is in a wheelchair in real life. Kitty was seven years old when she was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a rare neurological condition where the immune system attacks healthy tissue.

The virus unfortunately attacked Kitty's spinal cord and she was left paralysed, but she hasn't let that hold her back.

Kitty praised her family for their support in her career and told The Mirror: "I’ve always done theatre, and I used to love dancing. Then I was paralysed by an illness at seven. But my family’s response was, 'Well she’s not going to stop doing theatre just because she’s paralysed. She can still act in a wheelchair.' I was so lucky to have that support."

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm on BBC One — see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now.