Gillian Taylforth sparks social media meltdown as character Kathy Beale makes shock return in EastEnders

The mystery of who killed Lucy Beale wasn't the only thing that has EastEnders fans in a frenzy on Thursday night; so too did the return of Kathy Beale, seemingly back from the dead after almost a decade. It wasn’t just fans delighted by her dramatic return, so too was her on-screen son Adam Woodyatt.

Adam, who plays Ian Beale in the BBC soap, took to Twitter to celebrate actress Gillian Taylforth’s big come-back. "Dreams do come true #EELive," he wrote, adding a photo of the pair to mark their reunion.

Adam Woodyatt celebrated the return of his on-screen mum

Kathy was last seen on the show in 2000 and her return had been shrouded in secrecy. During the episode, EastEnders' executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins tweeted, "We're good at keeping secrets. #KathyComeHome #EELive."

Viewers saw Kathy emerging from a car to meet up with her ex Phil Mitchell, before begging him to let her "come home". Her few seconds on screen sparked a social media meltdown; it was thought that the character had died in a car crash in South Africa after moving there with her son Ben 15 years ago.

It has been confirmed that Gillian will be returning to the show indefinitely in the near future, when fans will learn "where Kathy has been and why she has stayed away so long", EastEnders promised.

Gillian Taylforth made a dramatic return as Kathy Beale

"When Dominic approached me with his plan, I was so shocked I got into my car and burst into tears," Gillian said of her return. "Kathy has always been so close to my heart and it's absolutely wonderful to be returning to the show and reprising the role."

On-screen son Adam added, "I'm thrilled, I couldn't be happier. I've finally got my mum back! I've been keeping this secret for so long and now I just can't wait to work with her again."

Executive producer Dominic, meanwhile, said: "I have always made my feelings on Kathy Beale and Gillian Taylforth very clear – she is part of history, mother to Ian and Ben, and one of the most important and iconic characters on British television.

Kathy was seen with ex Phil Mitchell, asking to be allowed to 'come home'

"Six months ago, we set ourselves the challenge of bringing Kathy back to the Square in a credible way. And I believe we have succeeded."

He added: "Viewers will have to keep watching to find out exactly why Kathy 'died', where she has been all these years and why she now wants to come home to Albert Square. This is only the beginning of one of the most earth-shattering storylines."