EastEnders spoilers follow.
A familiar EastEnders character has been recast as part of Strictly Come Dancing star Molly Rainford's on-screen family.
Linda has been fielding bids from both the Panesars and Sharon Watts to run the pub following Mick's disappearance, but her mother Elaine Peacock is on her way to Walford to help out.
Elaine was previously played by Maria Friedman during her guest stints between 2014 and 2017, but the role has been recast for acclaimed stage actress Harriet Thorpe to take over in a full-time stint.
"I'm thrilled to be playing Elaine who is an ultimate matriarch with a huge and vivid personality with a heart of gold who takes no prisoners and fights with all she's got, but has a vulnerable side that she only shows a select few," Thorpe said.
"The Vic needs strong women running it, and I want to honour the incredible, iconic queens who define EastEnders since the beginning. The entire company is a dream come true to work with, full of support, laughs, and creativity, with the warmest welcome from day one. The East End is where my family started out, so for me this feels like coming home!"
Elaine brings with her new lover George (Arrow and Doctor Who's Colin Salmon) and his two daughters, Gina (A Discovery of Witches' Francesca Henry) and Anna (Molly Rainford). The family are complete with their chihuahua Tyson.
Salom said of the new role: "I'm thrilled to be joining the cast of EastEnders to take on the role of George Knight. I'm excited to explore the character of George, a true East End gentleman having been born in the East End myself. I have a great affinity and love for the show and I look forward to being part of the great legacy."
Producer Chris Clenshaw has promised that the Knights will shake up the entire Square when they are revealed as the secret bidders taking over the Vic.
Clenshaw announced: "The arrival of the Knights brings a new dawn to Albert Square. George Knight is a charming rogue and an old-school gent who dotes on his two daughters, Gina and Anna. George will take up residence in The Queen Vic when he joins his beloved Elaine, a powerhouse of a land-lady who knows just how to have fun.
"The couple will be joined by feisty, determined and demanding Gina, who is as sharp and cool as cut diamonds but with a temper that blazes like fire, whereas younger sister Anna is fun, loveable, and big-hearted, but don't underestimate her.
"George, Gina and Anna have been bound together for years and arriving in Walford is the fresh-start the Knights are looking for. We're thrilled to welcome this hugely talented group of actors: Colin Salmon, Harriet Thorpe, Francesca Henry and Molly Rainford who will be immediately thrown into the heart of the Square, and we can't wait for everyone to meet them."
This role as Anna will be the most high-profile acting job for former Strictly star Molly, who previously appeared in CBBC's Nova Jones.
"I'm SUPER excited to be joining the cast of EastEnders," Molly said. "It's such an iconic show which myself and my family love, so it's an honour to bring the character Anna Knight to life who is set to stir up drama upon her arrival. I've already met a few familiar faces from my time on Strictly and I can't wait to meet and be a part of the EastEnders family."
Her on-screen sister Francesca added: "I wish I could tell younger me that one day I would be joining the show that I watched religiously every night with my Grandma. It's very surreal and a true privilege to be trusted to bring Gina to the Square, and to be a part of such an exciting, tight-knit new family."
The Knights will first appear on screen this summer.
EastEnders airs on Mondays - Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer.
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