'Oh my God!' Michelle Collins amazed by Cindy Beale's EastEnders return story

It can take an actor a bit of swaying to engage in a ‘back from the dead after 25 years’ kind of story, but EastEnders returnee Michelle Collins has declared Cindy Beale’s comeback story is ‘genius’.

The acclaimed actress, last seen on screen as Cindy in 1998, admitted that she almost didn’t go through with coming back, until her agent talked her into meeting EastEnders boss Chris Clenshaw.

‘I didn’t think they could ever do it! I think things are about timing, life is about timing and it wasn’t the right time, Michelle mused. ‘I think if it had happened five years ago I probably would have said no. It’s about timing.

‘Chris approached us. Adam and I are mates and we were both touring and everything and he’s mentioned it to me but I said it’s silly.

‘We had a meeting and I said to my agent “This is ridiculous, it’s never…” and they said “No, let’s go and meet Chris.” We had a breakfast meeting and he got his laptop out and he reeled it all off and we both went “Wow. Oh my God.”

‘It was incredible. And I thought actually maybe this could work.’

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Viewers now know that the mysterious and missing Rose Knight, wife of George (Colin Salmon), is indeed Cindy Beale, after she ignored a call from him.

It’s just the beginning of a major story that will carry the show through the rest of the year and beyond – and Michelle, who says she has never shaken off Cindy, is thrilled by how it plays out and comes together.

‘What was important was I said to Chris, “is she going to come back and be exactly the same as she was before?” and he was like, “No.” She’s complex, of course she’s complex.

‘The backstory of where she was, who has she been, what has she been doing during these years. It’s kind of genius the way it’s all been put together.’

Chris added: ‘Chris: ‘I think she’s been through a hell of a lot. To think she’s had this whole other life with George and Gina and Anna and not told them who she really is.

‘They were together for 15 years before the last 9 years so there’s a lot of history there. So she’s not quite the same woman.’

Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) returns alongside Cindy, but one of the most important factors for Michelle and Chris was the Beale family links to Walford’s freshest clan, the Knights.

‘Chris wouldn’t tell me for a while who was playing George and when he did I thought, “oh ok!,” said with a cheeky laugh.

‘He’s just a great actor Then I met the girls, which was important because we have a lot to do together and we haven’t got time on set to do all those kinds of things.

‘Chris has been really caring about everything and realised that it needed to be handled with kid gloves because it is such a huge thing to come back after that amount of time and you want to know you made the right decision.

‘I’m kind of loving being back, actually. It kind of feels like I’ve gone full circle. It’s exciting. It’s kind of scary but, you know what, that’s what life is about. Just embracing it and seeing what happens.’

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