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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
Mitchell brothers back in Square
Ross Kemp
Ross Kemp left Albert Square in October 1999
EastEnders fans have seen Grant Mitchell make his long-awaited return to Albert Square.

Actor Ross Kemp reappeared in the soap with the words "'Allo Mum" to startled mother Peggy (Barbara Windsor).

It was a suitably dramatic entrance - Peggy was being threatened by a thug working for Johnny Allen when Grant and brother Phil pulled up in a car.

Kemp gave up playing the hardman in 1999 to join ITV, but has returned initially on a three-week deal.

He is the latest favourite to return to the soap, following Windsor and Leslie Grantham.

Steve McFadden, who plays Phil Mitchell, recently made a fleeting return to the show after a year away and is now back for a longer run.

Mike Reid is lined up to come back as Frank Butcher in December.

EastEnders currently trails ITV1's Coronation Street in the ratings, narrowly ahead of rural soap Emmerdale.

It's been great making new acquaintances but also meeting up with old friends
Ross Kemp

Kemp told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat it was "weird" to return to the EastEnders set after six years.

"The crew and most of the supporting artists have not changed at all, so it was great to see most of them," he said.

"EastEnders is unique in being a soap that has that many supporting artists - there are 100 of them and I know virtually all of them by name - and they are really nice people so it was great seeing them.

"It's been great making new acquaintances but also meeting up with old friends."

Ratings battle

In September, EastEnders drew its lowest audience in more than five years with 6.6 million viewers tuning in to one episode.

Phil and Grant Mitchell
Phil and Grant Mitchell were among the soap's main characters in the 1990s

However, more than 14 million people watched Grantham's character, "Dirty" Den Watts, killed off in February in an episode marking the programme's 20th anniversary.

Last week, EastEnders averaged 10 million viewers per episode, more than one million behind Coronation Street and around one million ahead of Emmerdale.

EastEnders has the most nominations overall for Tuesday's National Television Awards, with six in total, compared to Coronation Street's four.

Last month it won best soap at the Inside Soap awards for the ninth year running.

EastEnders has lined up a number of star actors to play new characters including David Essex and Phil Daniels.

EastEnder hit by brain infection
03 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
David Essex lands EastEnders role
03 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
Phil Daniels to join EastEnders
28 Sep 05 |  Entertainment
EastEnders comeback for Mike Reid
07 Aug 05 |  Entertainment
EastEnders comeback for Ross Kemp
22 May 05 |  Entertainment
New boss heads to Albert Square
24 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
Actor McFadden back in EastEnders
11 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
In pictures: EastEnders' 20 years
19 Feb 05 |  In Pictures



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