The actor will play the “charming and mysterious” Ray Kelly

Irish stage and screen actor Sean Mahon has been cast to play Ray Kelly, the ex husband of Mel Owen and step dad to her son Hunter in EastEnders.

Earlier in the year, viewers met Ray’s sister Ciara; the ex-wife of Irish gangster, Aidan Maguire. In more recent scenes, Hunter made secret contact with Ray, having become frustrated by his mother’s relationship with Jack Branning – whom the teen believes isn’t good enough for Mel. As Ray pitches up in Albert Square, will he make a play for his former wife, and prize her out of Jack’s arms?

Jack Branning and Mel Owen share a kiss

Ray’s arrival will spell trouble for Mel and Jack in EastEnders

Says a spokesperson for EastEnders: “A serial risk-taker and expert liar, Ray certainly has the gift of the gab when it comes to getting what he wants, and with Mel swerving questions about him and being very reluctant to call him for help, Ray is clearly the last person Mel will want to see in Walford.

“It’s safe to say, the residents of Walford shouldn’t be fooled by Ray’s slick exterior, as a man who thrives on danger and who cannot be trusted is lurking underneath.”

Sean Mahon is best known for playing maverick cop Brian McGonigle in Irish drama Red Rock. He also played Judi Dench’s long lost son, Michael, in the 2013 film Philomena, and has had theatre roles on Broadway in The Seafarer and The 39 Steps.

Says the star: “I’m so happy to join such an incredibly hard-working and talented team, and I’m very much looking forward to playing out the drama that inevitably ensues on any given day in Albert Square.

“My character, Ray Kelly, is not one to tread lightly, and his arrival to the Square will cause shockwaves for many of the residents. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

EastEnders continues on BBC1.