Tamzin Outhwaite on her secret code name...

Tamzin Outhwaite has revealed she had a code name in the EastEnders scripts to hide her shock return as Mel Owen.

The 47-year-old actress makes her big return to Albert Square tonight 16 years after Mel fled to Portugal.

And Tamzin has revealed the lengths the makers went to make sure no one found out about her come back as Mel.

“At the very beginning, my return was all quite top secret. My name in all the scripts wasn’t Mel; it was Phoenix – rising from the ashes is what I assume! And when we actually came in to do press photos and stuff, I was pretty much under a blanket in the back of the car so people wouldn’t see me.”

While not everyone in Albert Square is pleased to see Mel back, Tamzin added that she was delighted to be back on the BBC1 soap.

“It has felt like coming home a bit. I think that’s because so much of learning my trade happened here, and it was three and a half years. There’s lots of new people that I don’t know, but crew-wise, it’s exactly the same camera men, and that’s really heart-warming. So in a way, it’s like nothing has changed, but in another way everything’s changed.”

EastEnders continues tonight on BBC1 at 7.30pm.