What happened to Shirley in EastEnders? Linda Henry’s return to BBC soap after extended break

Linda Henry hasn't been seen on BBC soap EastEnders for well over a year when Shirley Carter departed Walford after the 'death' of Mick Carter (Danny Dyer)

Shirley Carter hasn’t appeared in EastEnders for well over a year – and fans are desperate to have Linda Henry back.

The BBC soap aired a heartbreaking exit for Shirley in December 2022 when Mick Carter – played by Danny Dyer – ‘died’ in tragic scenes trying to save his wife Linda Carter and partner Janine Butcher and jumped off a cliff into the sea.

Shirley struggled to be in Walford after all that had happened and decided to take some time away from the Square, with Linda taking an extended break from the soap to facilitate this exit for Shirley.

There had been hope from fans of an imminent return when Dean Wicks appeared in Walford last October and dropped some huge news about Shirley, with fans convinced she would return on Christmas Day as part of the Six storyline. But Christmas came and went and there was no appearance of Linda’s character and now at the end of January, we still don’t know how she’ll return.

Shirley Carter and Mick Carter

Shirley struggled after Mick’s ‘death’

On his return back in October, Dean told Linda Carter that he had managed to convince Shirley that he did not rape Linda, leaving her horrified. He also told her that Shirley had suffered a breakdown during her time away from the Square and was hurt that Linda hadn’t been in touch with her since she saw the picture of Shirley and Dean back in February.

Linda wasn’t sure about what he said, and demanded Dean tell her an official diagnosis. He remained evasive though, refusing to confirm what was wrong with Shirley. When Linda tried to reach out to Shirley, on her mum’s suggestion, there was no reply from Shirley herself and Linda’s worries only spiralled – but with Dean back, she had other things on her mind.

The soap’s executive producer Chris Clenshaw previously insisted Linda would be back as Shirley one day. He said at the time: “Linda Henry is currently on a break from the show. Shirley walked out of Walford last year with Lady Di in the wake of Mick’s disappearance, but it won’t be the last you see of her,” but fans have yet to see her back in Walford.

Will Shirley return to Walford, and is she really poorly – and what will it mean for Dean Wicks when she does return and knows what he had been telling Linda about her? Many thought Dean would die at Christmas, but is he in even more trouble now?

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