Belfast Telegraph

Lucy Benjamin confused the EastEnders cast with her secret script name

Her return as Lisa Fowler was so tightly under wraps that even the actors were kept in the dark.

Returning EastEnders star Lucy Benjamin has told how she confused the entire cast after her character was given the script pseudonym, Sam, to keep her comeback a secret.

Benjamin, who plays Lisa Fowler in the BBC show, recently shocked viewers when she walked back into Albert Square following her explosive exit 14 years ago.

Her shock entrance came as her on-screen daughter, Louise Mitchell (Tilly Keeper), was rushed to hospital following an incident at her school prom, but plans for her return were kept so tightly under wraps that even the cast were in the dark.

The actress, 47, told ITV’s Loose Women on Thursday: “When the scripts first landed on my door, my character was called Sam, so I thought, ‘Well, I’m not in this,’ then I realised it must be me.

“But all the cast were getting the scripts with that name in it as well and then they had to re-learn it as Lisa on set, which was quite confusing. Letitia Dean (who plays Sharon Watts) said to me, ‘This is doing my head in’.”

She also told how rehearsals required her to be transported to the set in a car with blacked-out windows, which heightened her anticipation of “something really special”.

Commenting on her first day back, she continued: “It was like the first day on a new job, but within 10 minutes it was like I had never been away, and it was lovely to be working with Steve McFadden, Tish (Dean) and Natalie Cassidy – it was like being with old mates who had my back and who I knew would look after me again on my return.”

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Lisa’s return has caused a storm in Albert Square (Duncan Ireland/BBC/PA)

Lisa’s return to the show has already sparked fireworks with her former partner and Louise’s dad, Phil Mitchell (McFadden) who she previously tried to murder when last on the show – a storyline which required Benjamin to learn how to shoot a real gun in a disused London tube station, using melons as props to stand in for Phil’s head.

The two actors also had a real-life relationship at the time, before separating. Benjamin met her now husband Richard Taggart on an aeroplane when he recognised her from the telly and struck up conversation.

She remembered: “He sat next to me and then just said: “This must be very strange for you, because I know all about you and you know nothing about me, so if you want to find out all about me, feel free to ask.”

“We were engaged within six weeks, married within nine months, and I was seven weeks pregnant at the wedding… I was a bit pushy but you’ve got to get on with it.”

Her story came as the show’s panel celebrated host Andrea McLean’s engagement announcement after her partner Nick Feeney proposed while taking a selfie of the couple on a romantic getaway in Paris.

EastEnders continues with a double bill from 7.30pm on BBC 1 on Thursday.

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