EastEnders star Letitia Dean has defended soap bosses’ decision to bring her character Sharon Rickman back to Albert Square.

Sharon makes a dramatic return to Walford tonight after six years away from the soap, but some critics have said the comeback indicates EastEnders’ is running out of new ideas.

Letitia, 44, told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat: “I think with any sort of ongoing drama like EastEnders you need old blood, new blood, it just needs a balance.”

Steve McFadden, who plays Sharon’s ex Phil Mitchell, added: “You know I went and came back. And I know that when me, Ross (Kemp) and Barbara (Windsor) came back it sort of invigorated the show.

“What Letitia is doing is bringing back some history and you can’t buy that. It takes years to build that up.”

Sharon returns to Albert Square on August 13 in desperate need of Phil’s help as she is on the run from an angry, jilted fiance.

Letitia said: “She’s about to get married and realises last minute it’s the wrong thing to do. She needs Phil, who’s always helped her out of a crisis, so that’s where she heads.”

Letitia first joined the soap in 1985 and this will be her third stint in Walford.