EastEnders fans go wild as soap icon reunites with co-star five years after exit

EastEnders stars Jacqueline Jossa and Natalie Cassidy enjoyed a surprise reunion on Sunday (September 17), sending fans wild.

The actress, 30, who portrayed Lauren Branning from 2010 to 2018, took to her Instagram and revealed to her 3.6 million followers that she'd bumped into her former co-star.

Jacqueline kept things casual in a grey T-shirt, while Natalie, who has played Sonia Fowler on and off for 30 years, sported a green blazer above a white top.

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The I'm A Celeb winner captioned the snap: "Bumped into cousin Sonia @natcass1 Adore you!"

To which Natalie, 40, replied: "Love you," followed by a red heart emoji. EastEnders fans couldn't hide their excitement over the reunion as they rushed to the comments, with one writing: "This is so iconic." A second person gushed: "Love this pic."

Another penned: "Awww such a beautiful pic." A fourth agreed: "Fantastic photo of both of you as fifth echoed: "You two lovely ladies look absolutely gorgeous!" While another fan hinted at a possible return for the character, teasing: "Im sure Cousin Sonia can convince Cousin Lauren to return."

Danielle Harold, who made her final appearance as Lola Pearce in May, commented two heart-eyed emojis. While Zack Hudson star James Farrar left a red heart emoji underneath the snap.

Jacqueline officially departed EastEnders in February 2018, with Lauren leaving the square with her son following the death of her sister, Abi Branning (Lorna Fitzgerald).

The mum-of-two returned to the soap in December 2022 for the funeral of Dot Cotton, played by the late June Brown. Despite being nervous at returning, the influencer teased a full-time comeback after calling it "the best job in the world".

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She said: "When I went back recently I was nervous, but I was literally like: “I could stay here forever”. I love it. This is the best job in the world. I’ve really realised that that’s where I am my happiest and my passion and enjoyment comes from that side of things.

"Since going back to EastEnders I’ve had that little fire in my belly again, like there is that part of me that isn’t fulfilled anymore, that creative side."

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