Samantha Womack has spoken out about her return to EastEnders later this year, saying she cannot wait to get back to Albert Square.

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror the actress – who revealed last week she was returning to the role of Ronnie Mitchell – said she felt as if she had never been away from the show.

And in spite of some of the harrowing scenes she had to play during her time in EastEnders, she admitted she was looking forward to getting back to the drama.

“When I left I went to do musical theatre, possibly the furthest thing you can get from the gritty drama of EastEnders,” Samantha said.

“But still people would recognise me as Ronnie in the street all the time. You forget that for avid fans ­EastEnders becomes a part of their life. It’s almost as if it’s real for them. You’re in their world.”

Samantha quit the soap after being at the centre of one of its most controversial storylines, as Ronnie kidnapped Kat and Alfie’s son Tommy after losing her own newborn son James to cot death.

The plotline prompted over 13,000 complaints from viewers to the BBC and media regulator Ofcom, which later ruled the show had not breached any rules in showing the dramatic scenes.

However Samantha admitted that she needed a break afterwards, calling the story ‘intense and ’emotionally draining’.

“It was the right time to leave. Imagine going to work every day and screaming and crying and going through that whole range of emotions,” she confessed.

“I was really spoilt with the storyline and I wouldn’t change it, but I really lived it. Even though I was acting it ­really hit me hard and I knew I needed to get out for a while.”

The actress will return to the set this summer, with Ronnie – whose character was sent to prison following the kidnapping – set to reappear soon after.