Ian Lavender is returning to EastEnders as the kindly Derek Harkinson.

Following the brief but welcome return on Lord Cashman earlier this year, BBC1’s flagship soap has revealed another gay character is set to return to Albert Square.



Derek Harkinson – played by Dad’s Army star Ian Lavender – will be back on screen later this year for a special festive storyline.

Lavender – who originally starred in the BBC soap between 2001 and 2005 – left his mark on the square after becoming the loveable lodger of the late Pauline Fowler.

During his brief return, the character will be reunited with Pauline’s son Martin and his family.

“It was a lovely surprise to be back and I had a great time,” Lavender said of his return.

“It was brilliant to work with some old friends again, especially those who I only briefly got to work with before.”

Lord Cashman returned to the role Colin Russell in September – 27 years after leaving the show.

His comeback saw him trying to persuade long-time resident Dot Cotton to attend his same-sex wedding – despite her staunch Christian beliefs.

Colin – who was the BBC soap’s first ever gay character – was last seen in Walford in 1989, striking up strong friendships with a number of Albert Square’s residents during his time on the show.

The character first hit the headlines in 1987 when he had the first gay kiss in a British soap opera.

Following his acting career, Lord Cashman – who co-founded Stonewall in 1989 – was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands in 1999, until 2014 when he was appointed to the House of Lords.

In the same year, former party leader Ed Miliband named him the party’s special envoy on LGBT issues – a position he recently quit under current leader Jeremy Corbyn.




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