Isaiah Washington is to return to Grey’s Anatomy, seven years after he was fired from the show for using the word “faggot”.

The 50-year-old, who played heart surgeon Preston Burke during the first three seasons, was axed in 2007 after he used the homophobic slur during an on-set altercation with actor Patrick Dempsey.

Washington claimed that he was in fact referring to himself when he used the slur.

Soon after, fellow cast member TR Knight came out as gay and said he was offended by what the actor had said.

Washington claimed he was aggravated by Dempsey’s turning up late on the set and that his outburst had never been directed at TR Knight.

Appearing on The View in September last year, the actor said he “lost everything” following the incident with his acting work subsequently drying up.

On Friday it was announced Washington will make a guest appearance on Grey’s Anatomy to coincide with the departure of series regular Sandra Oh, his former on-screen love interest.

It will be screened in the US in May.

US LGBT advocacy group GLAAD welcomed the announcement saying: “His statements promoting marriage equality in recent years have sent a strong message of support for LGBT people.”

Washington will next appear in US post-apocalyptic drama The 100 – his first regular series role since Grey’s Anatomy.