Tamzin Outhwaite on her return as Mel and how she'd like it if Steve Owen could also come back

16 years after she fled to Portugal, the feisty blonde is coming back to Albert Square. There’s a blast from the past for Ian Beale soon, when ex wife Melanie Owen returns to Walford. But what has brought her back to London, E20?

Actress Tamzin Outhwaite reveals more about Mel’s return and how she’d like Steve Owen to return from the dead…

 Why is Mel back in Walford?

Tamzin Outhwaite: “There’s a very intricate jigsaw-like story. She comes back for a particular reason, but it’s about her son, inevitably. When she left, Mel was pregnant with Steve Owen’s child. She has a son, now, who is 15 years old, and he will be making an appearance quite soon.”

Would you like it if Steve Owen could come back from the dead as Mel’s ex, Steve Owen?

TO: “Yes! I did actually say to John Yorke, ‘Is there no way?’ I’ve watched that last scene again and I’ve watched the car blow up. It cuts to Steve McFadden, it cuts to Martin (Kemp) – I’ve watched it about three times to see if he could have got out in three seconds. He could have got out the other side. One side is against the wall but I reckon he could have got out of the other side of the car. I saw Martin at an awards thing and I said I was thinking about going back. He said: ‘If I hadn’t been killed in that car I’d have been back like a shot.’ So that’s such a shame!”

What has it been like, acting alongside Steve McFadden and Adam Woodyatt again?

TO: “It was lovely actually. I’ve got really good memories of EastEnders and of my three and a half years being there. It’s a lovely atmosphere. I did a couple of quite big scenes with Steve McFadden early on. It takes a while to get up to speed. What you forget is when you’ve learned a whole day – which is quite a lot – you then go home and look at the next day and you go: ‘Oh no, I’ve got exactly the same amount of dialogue to learn for tomorrow.’ So that scared me a bit. But Steve’s been amazing, Adam’s been amazing, and I’ve been working quite closely again with Letitia Dean (Sharon), who is just a very funny, strong woman – on and off screen.”

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How does she feel about being in Walford again?

TO: “She doesn’t want to be there at all. She’s come back for a reason but it’s a place with all these ghosts and she can’t bear the idea of that. So what you see is her trying to play the right game to get what she needs. You never really know what she’s up to.”

 

Have you been asked back before?

TO: “It’s been talked about, but John Yorke (the show’s Creative Director) has never come to my house and sat in my kitchen before! He has a very persuasive nature, and I don’t think I’d have come back if it wasn’t for him. We both have similar views on EastEnders, and were both part of it at a really lovely time. I like his view on the fact that this programme in particular works best when you have strong female characters driving it.”

Was it hard to get back into character?

TO: “I’d forgotten how Cockney I was. Not as Cockney as when I did Out Of Control, but not as well-spoken as I was Hotel Babylon. And because of that, I watched all the key episodes on YouTube, just to try and remember.

“I’d forgotten how I really liked her, so that was nice. Mel’s bolshie, but she’s also got a lot of humour in her. She just tells it very straight. But then coming back this time, John’s notes were that she’s a lot more damaged than she was. She’s been through an awful lot. In the 15 years she’s been away, an awful lot has happened to her, and that starts to unfold as time goes on.”

Is there romance coming up for her?

TO: “I would imagine that in the future, there will be romance, but I think there’s going to be a lot of trouble before any romance happens. Let’s just say I haven’t had any romance yet. I think Mel plays everybody quite well.”

Tamzin Outhwaite returns as Mel this week in EastEnders.