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Tuesday, May 11, 1999 Published at 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK


Sam's back in the Square

Danniella Westbrook: Back in Albert Square as Sam

Actress Danniella Westbrook is returning to EastEnders as Sam Butcher after an absence of three years.

Westbrook, whose character Sam left to live in Spain in 1996, expressed an interest in returning to the top-rated soap last year.

It is believed Sam will rekindle her friendship with ex-husband Ricky, played by Sid Owen - making his current wife Bianca (Patsy Palmer) jealous.

Westbrook, 25, said: "It's my dream come true. Sam is a great character and I'm thrilled to be given another chance to play her.

"They story line is excellent and I think it's safe to say there'll be a few family fireworks once I'm back in town."

Whirlwind romance

[ image: Sid Owen: Her screen ex-husband, Ricky Butcher]
Sid Owen: Her screen ex-husband, Ricky Butcher
An EastEnders spokeswoman said: "We're delighted to be welcoming the popular character of Sam Butcher to the Square for a storyline that's set to keep the viewers gripped.

"Let's hope Bianca is prepared for the return of Ricky's ex-wife."

The storyline, which begins in late summer, is believed to be related to the departure of Sam's brother, Grant Mitchell, played by Ross Kemp.

Westbrook has stayed in the public eye since her six-year stint in the show came to an end. Last year she married courier Ben Morgan after a whirlwind romance, and they went to live in Australia with her daughter.

But she returned to the UK - and was recently pictured in a newspaper working for a mobile phone company in Essex. She now uses her husband's surname.

Executive producer Matthew Robinson said: "We are delighted to be welcoming back the popular character of Sam Butcher to the Square for storylines that are certain to intrigue our viewers."

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