Tom Watt made a sneaky appearance in the soap in 2006…

EastEnders star Tom Watt, who played Lofty Holloway from 1985-1988, has revealed how he made a comeback to the soap in 2006.

But if you’re wondering how on earth you missed lanky Lofty, it’s because actor Tom wasn’t actually seen in the episode in question – he was only heard. Tom, who is also a renowned football journalist, recorded some fictional football commentary that was played out on The Queen Vic’s television during the 2006 World Cup.

Explains Tom: “They wanted people in the pub to be watching the football tournament. Obviously, they couldn’t use the real thing because they film in advance, and it wasn’t happening for another two months.

“They wanted someone that would be kind of recognisable, but not loud enough for people to go ‘That’s the geeza off BBC London.’ I went in, and we actually recorded it in The Vic, and I just made up this commentary that they played out. I never saw the episodes, but it was on the telly in The Vic, and would also have been on the radio in the caff.

“So it wasn’t exactly like going back to do Lofty, but it was going back – although it was weird, because there was no one else around. They’d obviously picked a time when we could just wild track it in The Vic, so it was just me and the sound man, and whoever was directing the episodes.”

EastEnders Sharon Mitchell and Lofty Holloway

Sharon has a drink with Lofty in the Vic.

The actor lifted the lid on his secret comeback ahead of a very public return next week. In the episode transmitting on 19th February – EastEnders’ 34th anniversary – Lofty will make a brief visit to Walford along with former resident Mary Smith (Linda Davidson) to attend the wake of GP Harold Legg.

Speaking of how he was approached for the comeback last year by EastEnders’ then creative director John Yorke, Tom says: “I was in the middle of writing a book, which is extremely lonely, and someone’s phoning you up and going ‘How about being sociable and getting paid to turn up?’

“John explained what the story was, and about 90 seconds into the conversation, I was like ‘Yeah, that sounds great!’ because it sounded a really nice story; it wasn’t just ‘Let’s just think of a reason to get a few old characters in.’ And it was; it was a nice little bit of script.”

EastEnders continues on BBC1.