EastEnders’ Danniella Westbrook claims the soap recast her role without her knowing

“I’ve been known as Sam Mitchell for 32 years.”

Former EastEnders star Danniella Westbrook has claimed the soap recast her role as Sam Mitchell without telling her.

It was recently announced that Sam would be returning to Albert Square, but with Kim Medcalf in the role – something the original actress said she wasn’t made aware of.

Both Westbrook and Medcalf have played the character over the years, with Westbrook originating the role from 1990 until 2000, when she left the role due to her well-documented drug addiction.

Medcalf then took over from 2002 to 2005, before Westbrook returned to the role again in 2009-10, and was last seen at Peggy’s funeral in 2016.

Westbrook claims she was “shocked” to learn her role had been recast, telling The Sun: “I’ve been known as Sam Mitchell for 32 years. But nobody at EastEnders contacted me to let me know they had recast Kim in the role. There wasn’t even an email to my agent. I was shocked because they do have a responsibility to tell me and someone should have.”

Speaking last year, Danniella praised Kim’s portrayal of Sam, and said she had the opportunity to thank her in person when they met at an awards show in 2009.

“I had never seen [Kim] before, so I went up to her on the red carpet and I said: ‘Kim, I just wanted to say well done on the part. I know you took a lot of backlash and everything for stepping in, but you did a fantastic job. You’re a very talented actress and thank you for keeping Sam alive, keeping her going’,” she recalled.

“She was a little bit taken aback and said: ‘Thank you so much’.”

The actress will start shooting her “explosive” returning scenes in the next few weeks.

“The Mitchells are one of the most iconic families in soap, and I have long wanted to bring Sam back into the family fold,” said the BBC’s head of continuing drama Kate Oates. “With Phil potentially facing a long spell inside, Sam arrives back in Walford ready to take what she sees as her rightful place in the Mitchell empire. But with strong grudges against Kat, Sharon, Jack and Denise, to name but a few, her return is guaranteed to be explosive…”

EastEnders airs on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on BBC One.

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