Returning to EastEnders after seven years away, Matt Di Angelo reveals to Soaplife how he – and Dean – feel about being back in Albert Square. And how not everyone is happy to see him…

What brings Dean to The Queen Vic?

“He comes to have a quick pint with his granddad, under the illusion that there wouldn’t be anyone else in the family there, so Stan has obviously lied. It’s a bit stupid, but Dean is slightly naïve.”

And he comes face to face with his estranged mum, Shirley…

“That puts him on the back foot and he ignores her. If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all, he thinks. But she keeps pushing him and pushing him until he eventually says some very hurtful things.”

Like what?

“Well, everything he says is the truth, which sometimes is the most upsetting thing. And the truth is she walked out on her son Jimbo, who was very sick with cystic fibrosis. She abandoned him, and then didn’t turn up to his funeral, so that’s what Dean is angry about. But Mick punches him for upsetting Shirley… Dean doesn’t see it coming!”

Does Dean actually hate Shirley?

“I don’t think he hates her. I think he’s very angry with her and resents her a lot. I don’t think you can ever really hate your mum, but you can go through phases of disliking her. At the end of the day, though, it’s your mum. You grew inside her!”

Can they salvage their relationship?

“Well, if Shirley apologises for the things she’s done and tries to make amends, then maybe.”

How is Dean with the rest of the Carter family?

“He hasn’t known them long enough to have an opinion of them, they just seem like a normal family. Obviously he’s very fond of his granddad, but the rest of them he doesn’t really know.”

Does Dean want to be in Albert Square?

“He’s a bit of a nomad. He works as a barber and doesn’t care where he is. It’s just another place – with some familiar and some fresh faces. Dean likes plenty of eye candy to look at, so he’s quite enjoying being back.”

And are you?

“It’s great to see the old friends and faces. It was one of my very first jobs, so it was kind of like an apprenticeship last time I was here. I was 18 years old when I started – I’m 27 now so some things have changed, some haven’t. It’s strange being back, but enjoyable.”