‘Live week’ delivered a big surprise tonight when Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth), who is supposed to be dead, met up with her ex-husband Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden).
In live scenes which took place away from Albert Square, viewers saw an anxious Phil waiting to meet someone before a black cab pulled up from which Kathy stepped.
Kathy pleaded with Phil that she wants to come home, but Phil warned her to stay away.
“When Dominic approached me with his plan, I was so shocked I got into my car and burst into tears! ‘Kathy’ has always been so close to my heart and it’s absolutely wonderful to be returning to the show and reprising the role.” – Gillian Taylforth
For the past nine years, viewers have been led to believe that Ian’s mother met her maker in a car crash in South Africa. However when she returns to Walford later this year, they will learn where she has really been and why she has stayed away so long…
“I have always made my feelings on Kathy Beale and Gillian Taylforth very clear – she is part of EastEnders history, mother to Ian and Ben and one of the most important and iconic characters on British television.
“Six months ago, we set ourselves the challenge of bringing Kathy back to the Square in a credible way. And I believe we have succeeded.
“Viewers will have to keep watching to find out exactly why Kathy ‘died’, where she has been all these years and why she now wants to come home to Albert Square. This is only the beginning of one of the most earth-shattering storylines EastEnders has ever seen…” – Executive Producer, Dominic Treadwell-Collins
Kathy appeared in EastEnders’ very first episode on 19 February 1985, remaining a high-profile resident of Walford until 1998 when she departed London for South Africa. However, she would later return for two short-lived stints in 1999.
The character’s storylines included being blackmailed by baddie Nick Cotton who, having accessed Kath’s medical records, discovered that she had given up a child for adoption before her marriage to Pete Beale; and being raped by James Wilmott-Brown, her boss at the Dagmar Public House. The attack saw the end of her first marriage to barrow boy Pete.
Kathy was later wooed by Phil Mitchell but their marriage was plagued by his boozing which started following the birth of their son Ben. When the marriage crumbled for good, Kathy decided to leave London behind.Ben came to live in Walford following his mum’s assumed demise in February 2006. The decision made by the soap to kill off Kathy has been a much-criticised one down the years.
The character of Kathy was last seen in 2000 after returning briefly for Ian’s millennium wedding to Mel.
Adam Woodyatt who plays Ian said: “I’m thrilled, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve finally got my mum back! I’ve been keeping this secret for so long and now I just can’t wait to work with her again.”