EastEnders has confirmed Dean Gaffney is to return to the soap as Robbie Jackson this summer. Robbie left Walford for India with girlfriend Nita in 2003, making a brief returns in 2004 and 2010.
We met Dean on the Walford set for a chat about his return to the soap that made him famous…
So why is Robbie coming back?
“Robbie’s return is tied up with Carol, Robbie’s mum, leaving Walford. Yes, Lindsey Coulson is leaving the show and Robbie’s there to be with her for a bit. She’s such a great actress, so it’s a shame she’s leaving but it gives me a job so that’s nice. I’ve come back to check on my sister, Sonia, to see what she’s getting up to and check on my mother. It’s been great. It was really nostalgic. To walk round somewhere that I spent 11 years of my life is really weird.”
Do you still have great mates on the show?
“I’m really pally with Steve McFadden (Phil), and Natalie Cassidy (Sonia) is like my real life sister. Funnily enough, Richard Blackwood, who’s recently joined the cast as Vincent, is one of my best friends in real life so it’s nice he’s on the set too. I know it’s a cliche, but it does feel like coming home.”
How many episodes is Robbie back for?
“Just six. If I can get producer Dominic Treadwell Collins tonight, hopefully he’ll make it 60. I’d love to come back permenantly. It’s a great show and certainly what happened with Who Killed Lucy? everybody upped their A game and the show gets better and better every year.”
What’s Robbie been up to while he’s been away?
“When I got the call from the scriptwriters last week they said we know what Robbie’s like, he’s hopeless in love, hopeless with money, so I come back the same Robbie I think that left over 10 years ago.”
Robbie had left for India, hadn’t he?
“He was happily loved up and trying to find himself. Robbie has a son now who I believe he brings back to the show. But I think him and Nita’s character didn’t work out and he hasn’t got a penny in his pocket as usual.”
Can you tell us any more about Robbie’s return?
“I know as much as anyone else. I think it’s that his mum Carol is not happy in Albert Square and wants to leave and I think everyone needs their mum at some point so he’s come back. He’s split up with his girlfriend and needs his mother basically.”
Has he got a beef with anyone in the Square this time?
“I don’t think so, but you never know with EastEnders. I might have met Danny Dyer in an earlier life…”
Does Robbie have a new dog friend?
“It’s the one question I always get asked. Every day of the week I get, ‘Where’s Wellard?’ I think there’ll be some reference. When I came back for the 25th anniversary they had a lovely scene with myself and Maisie who played Bianca’s daughter, who basically tells Robbie that Wellard passed away and it was such a beautiful little scene, so it will be interesting to see if they bring Wellard’s name up again.”
Are you apprehensive?
“With soap it’s hard to shed that character, but it’s been a while and I’m always called Robbie when I’m out and about so to be honest if you can’t beat them join them!”
Have you been watching it?
“Yes you couldn’t not watch the Who Killed Lucy? stuff. I think Adam Woodyatt was sensational in that and everyone upped their game and it kind of brought new fans to the show even though EastEnders will always remain popular. I think it brought a new fan base to the show.”
What have you been up to?
“The thing about acting is if you’re not on telly people think you’re not working, but I’ve been doing plays and stuff like that. So I’ve been keeping the wolf from the door, doing the craft that I chose to do, so it’s been nice actually.”
Has it bothered you that you’re always thought of as Robbie?
“No! EastEnders has bought me two beautiful children, a great home and a great lifestyle so I can’t ever be angry. It would be nice if people start talking about me in films and stuff like that, but beggars can’t be choosers!”