EastEnders bosses reveal huge autumn spoilers as Janine returns & Gray goes down

The summer might have come to an end but for the residents of Walford, things are only just beginning to heat up, as EastEnders prepares for a sizzling autumn that will change just about everything!

Albert Square’s finest have been through a lot this year.

Some have lost loved ones, while others reuniting with long-forgotten relatives.

There were shocks and revelations, culminations of huge stories and exits that changed the very fabric of the long-running serial drama.

But after a somewhat quieter summer period, EastEnders is set to explode this autumn, quite literally, as a deadly fire causes chaos, while the legendary Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) makes her highly-anticipated return!

But don’t just take our word for it!

Metro.co.uk chatted to the soap’s bosses Kate Oates and Jon Sen, as well as series star Charlie Brooks, who dished the gossip on what fans can expect to see in the coming months.

The question is: will anyone be in need of a pair of slip-on shoes?

Janine returns

It’s a moment that many fans have longed for, and one that many more thought would never happen, but dreams do come true, as the legendary Janine Butcher will set foot back in Walford!

The soap superbitch, who was last seen in Albert Square in 2014, makes a memorable return in upcoming scenes, following daughter Scarlett’s (Tabitha Byron) reappearance last week.

‘Janine is older, and she’s wiser, and she’s had time to think about what she wants from life,’ Jon told us. ‘We’ve seen her spend her time on the wild side and she’s grown up in the square. 

‘Now, she’s working out what matters in life and what’s important to her. She’s obviously got Scarlett, her daughter, whose in care and that’s given her pause for thought, and perhaps the maternal instinct has finally clicked with Janine, who knows?

‘She’d like to be a better person, if only the devil on her shoulder would let her allow. So it’s Janine, but it’s Janine 2.0.

‘She’s changed. She’s spent time away. Last time we saw her she was heading off to chase another man for some money and now she has returned with a bit if a plan, which you will discover.’

‘I think one of the most interesting things to watch when Janine returns is how she will be as a mother,’ added EastEnders’ Kate.

‘Janine always loved Frank and saw him through rose-tinted glasses – and as a father figure, he certainly “talked the talk”. But Daddy’s Girl Janine often found herself put to the back of the line, while Frank had adventures of his own with Pat and Peggy. 

‘When she returns, Janine makes it clear that she will do anything for Scarlett – including taking on Kat Slater…but even when she’s trying to be a great mother, Janine will always end up putting herself first.

‘Janine is more like Frank than she thinks…but can another resident of Albert Square make her realise that, before it’s too late?’

Charlie Brooks, meanwhile, is over the moon to have reprised her iconic role, telling us that she’s ‘genuinely excited’ about what’s to come.

‘The writers have done a brilliant job so far of writing for her,’ she said. ‘I read the scripts and go: “Oh my god, can she say that? Oh my god, I love it!”.

‘It’s fun and that’s what I’m excited about exploring with her as well as all of the layered stuff that goes on underneath. As human beings, we grow and evolve all the time and we all really want to connect with that inner child and unlocking that part of us, whether that’s for better or for worse, is always a really interesting thing to explore.

‘Being honest about who we are and what we want and how we go about getting it, and I think that could be quite exciting for her.’

Janine, upon her arrival in Walford, will attempt to appeal to nemesis Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace), hoping to bring Scarlett back home. But with so much animosity between them, will the former foes ever truly be able to see eye-to-eye?

Stacey is back – and she’s got a new friend

Janine isn’t the only Walford icon set to return this autumn, as Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) will make a shocking comeback following her stint in prison.

Viewers will know that Stacey was incarcerated earlier this year, after nemesis Ruby Allen (Louisa Lytton) lied, telling the police that she pushed her down the stairs.

Whether or not she will be out for revenge remains to be seen, but Stacey brings with her a pal named Eve (Heather Peace), who she met while behind bars.

‘I’m delighted to see Lacey Turner return to the Square as Stacey,’ said Kate Oates. ‘Stacey has made a new friend in prison, and will shortly be joined by Eve – her cell mate inside, and her new best friend on the outside. But where Eve goes, chaos follows.

‘There’s a reason Eve’s sentence kept getting extended when she’d initially been imprisoned for a short stint: she simply can’t keep out of trouble.

‘But with Stacey out on probation, Jean is determined that Eve will not lead her daughter into bad ways. But just how extreme is Jean prepared to go to keep Stacey on the straight and narrow?’

Jon added: ‘What that kind of friendship is this going to be? Because [Stacey and Eve] come back having shared a prison experience that has united them in a very unique friendship, so that’s really exciting.’

Gray’s storyline at last concludes

The downfall of murderous Gray Atkins (Toby-Alexander Smith) is almost upon us, as the vile killer will be thrown a curveball that changes everything.

‘Gray’s story was always intended to be a longer arc after the death of Chantelle,’ Kate Oates told Metro.co.uk. ‘But even though some of his actions have been extreme, they have always been grounded in the roots of Gray’s character. 

‘He’s a classic narcissist: everything he does is designed to fit a narrative that absolves him from guilt, and paints him out to be a good guy.

‘I think in Gray, we have a character who tells himself that Chantelle died in a terrible accident; that Tina had to die so he could be there for his kids; and Kush had to go, because he and Whitney are ‘meant to be’. He’s the centre of his own universe, and nothing is his fault.

‘Life is going to throw Gray a curveball; something out of his control, that will bring the story back to its grass roots as he tries to start again in new relationship.

‘But Gray hasn’t been as clever as he thinks. Smoking guns are all over the Square, just waiting to be found. Gray’s downfall awaits…’

Jon added: ‘We’re building to the kind of culmination of the Gray storyline. And that takes its next chapter. It has been a very long story arc and it’s taken many twists and turns, but we are kind of going back to the grass roots of the story really pivoting it back to its origins.

‘It’s gonna be fascinating turn of events for the Atkins family.’

Ruby will meet a ‘sticky end’

With actress Louisa Lytton having already filmed her final scenes ahead of her maternity leave, Ruby Allen’s exit story will no doubt kick off imminently.

The character is tangled in a web of lies, after confessing her role in Stacey’s imprisonment to Jean (Gillian Wright), who has vowed to make her pay by revealing the truth to Martin Fowler (James Bye).

‘Jean is intent on bringing Ruby down and on clearing Stacey’s name,’ said Kate, ‘Ruby is going to come to a slightly sticky end!.’

But just what does this mean?

Will Ruby die? Or will she simply be left with nothing and no-one when the truth comes out?

Linda and Mick’s baby struggle

Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) is pregnant with Max Branning’s (Jake Wood) baby, after the two controversially had an affair last year.

Sorry for the reminder.

Mick (Danny Dyer) has vowed to stand by his beloved L no matter what, and the popular duo resolved to keep the baby’s real dad a secret. However, doing so will be a struggle, especially with Rainie Highway (Tanya Franks) on the case!

‘Linda is pregnant obviously with Max’s baby,’ said Jon. ‘They’re desperate to hide that from the Square.

‘But Rainie, as ever, is intent on finding out the truth, and will the Carters be able to convince everyone that Mick’s the father in time, or will Rainie get to the truth?’

An old face from Kim’s past returns

Kim Fox (Tameka Empson) has certainly delivered the comedy since returning to Walford, as she embarked on a new business venture, setting up her Foxcatcher match-making service.

But the stalwart is set to be rocked by the return of an ‘old ghost’ in upcoming scenes, which will allow actress Tameka to do what she does best.

‘Kim finds an old ghost or ghost from the past,’ teased Jon. ‘A ghost from the past comes back to haunt her really, and we’re going to see Kim embark on a much more kind of dramatic storyline which be great to see Tameka with different strings to her bow because she’s such a brilliant actress that it’s just great to see.’

Kheerat’s new love interest

Kheerat Panesar (Jaz Deol) is set to find love again it would seem, as the businessman embarks on a new romance. Suki (Balndider Sopal), however, will not be very pleased with her eldest son, as this passion will be one of their enemies!

‘Suki is making more enemies, as ever,’ said Jon. ‘That becomes a big problem when it turns out that Kheerat is going to be potentially romantically involved with one of those enemies, so there’s lots in store!’

The question is: who is this new love interest?

Longer episodes will not return just yet

EastEnders has been producing episodes varying between 18 and 25 minutes in length since returning to screens last year following it’s Covid-19 break.

The complex filming methods employed to ‘cheat’ the two metre social distancing restrictions are largely responsible for the truncated instalments.

Fans have been longing for the show to return to the preferred 30-minute format, but boss Jon has explained that, while this is their aim, the shorter episodes will continue for the time being.

‘It’s been an incredibly challenging year for us all, but we have continued to make the show,’ he said. ‘We’ve got through covid and lockdowns and the pingdemic and we’re still making the show.

‘The cast and crew have been amazing, they’ve learnt new techniques, the cast have been completely revolutionising the way they work, they now work doing play shots, acting to tennis balls like you would do in a Marvel movie and it’s been amazing to watch.

‘The crew have done the same, they’ve changed the way they work beyond recognition, so I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved together and now we’re just looking forward to working our way to more normal circumstances as soon as it’s safe to do so.

‘So we’re doing 20 minute episodes at the moment, we are looking to a future where we can get back to full length EastEnders episodes and hopefully that will be soon.’

EastEnders airs Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on BBC One.

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