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Thursday, 16 January 2014

EastEnders: Carol's Heartbreak leads to Sonia's return


This week saw the return of Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) to Eastenders along with her daughter Rebecca (Jasmine Armfield), reuniting the original Jackson family for the dramatic breast cancer storyline affecting Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson). Whilst Sonia has reappeared occasionally since her departure in 2007, her introduction to the show this week was low key (although her arrival did grant her one of Eastenders’s famous ‘duff duff’ cliff-hanger endings in Tuesday’s episode) opening the door to greet her mother Carol, but unbeknownst to her Carol had arrived to deliver a distressing revelation- she is suffering from breast cancer. Lindsey Coulson has always delivered but she has been outstanding during her current storyline, reaffirming my opinion that she is one of Eastenders strongest actors. Her breakdown in Wednesday night’s episode in the presence of her daughters and granddaughter was truthful and heartfelt as Carol realised the enormity at what she is facing, however it also served to highlight the powerful bond between the Jackson women and was a powerful metaphor for womanhood and the strong maternal bond between mother and daughter.


Sonia’s return is a great decision by Eastenders, her history is rooted in the Jacksons and Fowlers, whilst she has had some memorable storylines over the years: discovering she was pregnant only when giving birth to her daughter Rebecca; the death of her boyfriend Jamie Mitchell at the hands of her future husband Martin Fowler; her foray into lesbianism and being arrested for both abduction and murder- Sonia hasn’t always had an easy time of it! But Natalie Cassidy is a fantastic actress and it’s great to see her return to the show, as well as making the Butcher household a stronger unit and maintaining a link to the Fowler family. It will be interesting to see where Eastenders take Sonia this time round, especially as she now has a teenage daughter and  we know from her conversation with Carol this week that she has reunited with Martin (although sadly James Alexandrou is not returning to the show).

The storyline, although heartbreaking showcases what EastEnders does best. It's achingly real and thought provoking. Lindsay Coulson's performance is incredible and often difficult to watch. It's wonderful that the show is getting back to its roots, it's appointment TV again.

Natalie Cassidy is not the only former actor to return to Eastenders; it has been announced recently that Lacey Turner (Stacey Branning) and Matt Di Angelo (Deano Wicks) are also set to return to the soap in the coming months. It is clear that executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins is trying to rebuild the strong family units in Albert Square which have been so lacking in recent years, a decision which will hopefully ensure stronger performances and gripping storylines in the coming months. With the return of former popular actors and well written stories, 2014 is looking a whole lot brighter for Eastenders.

EastEnders Continues Tonight at 7.30pm on BBC ONE.
Contributed by Rachael Miller 

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