Charlie’s infamous character will be as awful as ever when she bursts back into Walford next month after a seven-year absence from the soap
Charlie Brooks says her EastEnders character Janine Butcher will be as awful as ever when she bursts back into Walford next month after a seven-year absence.
Janine’s comeback is linked to the return of daughter Scarlett, who arrived on Friday after running away from her foster carers to meet with Kat Moon’s son Tommy.
Tommy and Scarlett believe they are cousins and have yet to discover they are actually half-siblings, who share a dad in Michael Moon – stabbed to death by Janine in 2013.
The first thing Janine does is lock horns with her old adversary Kat, played by Jessie Wallace.
Charlie said: “It would be criminal not to bring her back and go where we all really want her to go, which is this alter-ego evil side. And we’re definitely, definitely doing that.”
BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)
Charlie, 40, added: “We know that it’s going to be explosive – we might see some flames in a big fire.”
As well as Kat, Janine will have to face down old enemies in the shape of Phil Mitchell, Sharon Watts, and returning Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) – who also bounces back this autumn after being released from jail.
Charlie said: “I know when it’s exciting because I can feel it as an actress, when two characters are just sparking off each other.”
Admitting she was terrified to start again after her long stint away, mum-of-one Charlie said: “I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know who she is.
“‘Who’s she going to be?’ And I thought, ‘Am I going to find her again?’
“But I love the idea of walking in her shoes for a day. I get to play out all my wild sides through this fantastic character.”
Executive producer Jon Sen said of the villain: “Fans love her because a bit of all of us would like to spend a day walking in Janine’s shoes.
“Her panache, her daring, her wit, her put-downs, the risks she takes, the way she gets away with everything, the lies she tells.”
He added that EastEnders 20-minute episodes should “soon” be back to their full half-hour length.
In her time away from Walford, Charlie has starred in shows including Channel 5 drama Lie With Me and the BBC’s Moving On.
And in 2012 she took time off soap duties to win I’m A Celebrity.
But she says she often finds herself wondering about Janine.
Charlie said: “I’ve imagined her as a hippie on the beach, trying to redeem herself, smoking a joint.
“She couldn’t redeem herself. I think there’s a definite self-loathing going on within her. And sometimes that makes her attack in ways that an ordinary human being might not.”
EastEnders fans still accost her in the street. “The one I get most is ‘You killed Barry’,” she said, admitting the 2004 storyline is still her favourite.
“It used to be, ‘Here, love, here’s a tenner’ in the prostitution days.” Show boss Kate Oates says Janine is a chip off the old block when it comes to her late father Frank Butcher.
Kate said: “One of the most interesting things to watch when Janine returns is how she will be as a mother.
“Janine always loved Frank and saw him through rose-tinted glasses.
“Janine makes it clear that she will do anything for Scarlett – including taking on Kat Slater.” But she said Janine always puts herself first, even when trying to be a great mother.
Other upcoming plots include Linda Carter’s battle to stop anyone finding out her baby was fathered by Max Branning and the long-awaited downfall of serial killer Gray Atkins.