Melanie Owen was one of the most popular Eastenders characters of all time, so it’s no surprise that fans are looking forward to her return to the soap early in January 2018.

Actress Tamzin Outhwaite is returning to reprise the role of Mel, after leaving the show in 2002 after four years with the soap.

And now, 47-year-old Tamzin has revealed some exciting details about the return of the character, admitting that Melanie has been “damaged” since her departure from Albert Square.

She told Metro that while Mel is still the “strong” character everyone knew, there is now a part of her that, 15 years on, is more guarded and “brutal”.

Tamzin confessed, “I think that it was unfinished terriority that at some point I’d need to revisit. But I didn’t know when.”

“Mel is still a really strong female character. But whereas before she was quite vulnerable, this time around, through the years and getting older and wiser, she has become slightly more damaged. So what you see in Mel is something slightly more brutal and damaged.

“So her track of revenge is all under the guise of how charming and flirty she can be. But really, deep down is a damaged girl.”

Chatting to the Huffington Post, the soap star also revealed some details about Mel’s reason for returning to the square – but admitted that it has nothing to do with her old pals, Ian, Phil and Sharon.

She confessed, “I can tell you she’s back, but she doesn’t want to be back. She’s back for a reason, it’s a very serious reason and she needs to get into that Square and do what she needs to do, and get out again.

“Unfortunately, it takes longer than she expects.”

“She definitely visits Ian, she definitely visits Phil. She bumps into a few old faces – Sharon, etc. But really the story doesn’t revolve around those people. The reason she’s back doesn’t revolve around them at all.”

Of course, it’s been 15 years since Tamzin hit the streets of Albert Square. But the mum-of-two revealed that coming back to Eastenders actually felt like coming home.

She said, “At first I was quite nervous and a bit scared about it, but when I went on and saw Steve [McFadden] and Adam [Wyatt] and Natalie Cassidy, I felt at home. Now, as a place, I do feel like I’ve come home a bit.

“Eastenders has changed an awful lot, but at the same time it’s exactly the same.”

Tamzin has previously shared that her character Mel won’t be returning to the East End entirely alone – but will eventually be joined by son Hunter, who her character shares with Steve Owen.

“I can tell you that I come back alone but my son does make an appearance quite soon after. And watch this space, because he is a gorgeous young thing. And the girls are going to go a little bit mad!”

Tamzin is set to make her return to Eastenders as Melanie Owen in early January 2018.