Ross Kemp is to return to the role of Grant Mitchell in BBC soap EastEnders this autumn after six years with ITV.
Ross Kemp left Albert Square in October 1999
The actor, who left the show in October 1999, said it would be "enormous fun to return to a show I love and respect".
"We are so pleased that Ross will be back on the show," said EastEnders' executive producer Kate Harwood.
"His character is one of the most iconic and popular in the history of soap," she added. "The impact of his return should not be underestimated."
The announcement follows news that actors Steve McFadden and Barbara Windsor - who play Grant Mitchell's brother Phil and mother Peggy - would also be returning to the show.
"Kemp's signing means that the whole Mitchell family will be back together on screen for the first time since 1999," said a BBC spokesman.
According to the corporation, Kemp's character will return from exile in Rio for a fixed period that will see him involved in "an explosive new storyline".
"It is going to be fireworks from the start," said Ms Harwood.
"I have been away from EastEnders for almost six years now and have enjoyed myself enormously working on other dramas, but I have kept great memories of my time on the Square," said Kemp.
The 40-year-old said he was looking forward "to do some more work with some fantastic acting and writing talent".
Kemp's high-profile return follows an anxious period of falling ratings and upheaval behind the scenes.
In January, EastEnders drew its lowest audience share in more than five years with 6.8 million viewers tuning in to one episode.
However, more than 14 million people watched "Dirty" Den Watts killed off in February in an episode marking the programme's 20th anniversary.