James Alexandrou says the time isn’t right for him to return to EastEnders, despite his screen wife Sonia (Natalie Cassidy) returning to Albert Square this year.

James played Martin Fowler on EastEnders between 1996-2007, but left to start a new life with Sonia and their daughter Rebecca. Sonia is now back in Walford, supporting her mum Carol while she’s fighting breast cancer, but without Martin.

James told What’s on TV: “Natalie called me when she went back in it and she was so happy and it seems like there’s a really nice atmosphere there and I know that when Danny Dyer came in it really energised it and he’s great for the show.

“For the first time in a long time I was really going, ‘Could I do it? Could I do it? …But I don’t think the time’s right for me right now. But it’s never a no – it’s just not right now.”

James is currently playing Iago in a production of Shakespeare’s Othello at London’s Leicester Square Theatre until April 26.

Watch James talk about EastEnders and his burgeoning film writing and directing career: