Gillian Taylforth didn't tell family about EastEnders return

Gillian Taylforth has confessed it was "awful" trying to keep her keep her top secret 'EastEnders' return from her family

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Kathy Beale

Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale

Gillian Taylforth struggled to keep her 'EastEnders' return a secret from her family.

The 59-year-old actress - whose character Kathy Beale was believed to have died in a car accident in South Africa nine years ago - returned to the BBC One soap this week to mark its 30th anniversary and confessed she felt "awful" hiding the fact she was set to reprise her role from her kids, Harrison and Jessica.

Gillian - whose return was watched by 12 million viewers - added she had tried to tempt her family to watch the episode by insisting her on screen son Ian Beale was going to do "something silly" without letting slip she was to make a comeback herself.

Unfortunately both her kids missed her explosive return.

She told The Sun newspaper: "Keeping it secret has been awful. The only person who knew was my other half Dave.

"I was saying to my children the other day, 'Try and watch EastEnders, it's live and Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale) is going to do something really silly'.

"I thought that would get them watching it, but my daughter said, 'I'm working until 9pm' and my son said he was playing football over the rec.

"So I went, 'All right, thanks very much'. I even kept it from my sisters and brother, I don't know how."

Gillian - whose character Kathy was part of the show's original cast when it started in 1985 - burst into tears when she found out she was going to return to the soap after being called to Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins' house.

She explained: "The approach came just before Christmas. I was up in Liverpool doing [Channel 4 soap] Hollyoaks and I got a call asking if I could go and see Dom.

"I'd presented Adam Woodyatt with his Lifetime Achievement award and East-Enders their 30th award at The Soap Awards and thought it was probably something to do with jumping out of a cake.

"So I drove over and Dom said, 'Phil's [Mitchell] going off on these visits somewhere and nobody knows what he is doing. It's all to do with you coming back to EastEnders'. I just went, 'Pardon?' I had this blank look on my face and everything went blurry. The next half hour was surreal. I couldn't take it in - I was so excited.

"I got to the car, turned to my other half, burst into tears and told him. He said, 'I knew it wasn't to present a cake'."

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