Jo Joyner often gets asked whether she will return to EastEnders, with fans desperate to see her reprise her role as Tanya Branning permanently. But the popular actress has no plans to go back to the show in the near future – and there is a very simple explanation for this – it's too miserable! "If I come out of a drama I always try to look for a comedy," Jo told the Sunday Mirror. "You can't just do it constantly for years in misery, otherwise you end up with the Walford frown. It gets to you."
Tanya made her exit from Walford in 2013 when she left to start a new life in Exeter with her son Oscar. However, Jo was persuaded by the show's bosses to return for on-screen daughters Abi and Lauren Branning's exit storyline in December. Tanya made a surprise return on Christmas Day to visit her children, and witnessed her daughters plummet from the roof of the Queen Vic in a bid to save their dad, Max Branning, from committing suicide. The tragic storyline saw Abi die in hospital from her injuries, while Lauren left to start a new life with her son Louie.
Jo Joyner with EastEnders on-screen daughters Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald
Jo's character was last seen in February, where she was too traumatised to get out of the car to say goodbye to her youngest daughter. At the time, some viewers questioned Tanya's decision to not attend Abi's funeral, but Jo was quick to jump to her defense. After being asked: "@dollyjoyner exactly what was the point in Tanya even going to her own daughter's funeral if she couldn't actually force herself to go in the church," the actress replied: " It’s a shame she couldn’t even get out of the car isn’t it. But then, I think I’d struggle to breath if I lost a child. So I’m not judging her."
In June, Jo is set to return to the TV as headteacher Mandy Carter with news of the second series of Channel Four's Ackley Bridge set to air. The popular drama centres around a multi-cultural academy school in Yorkshire, and the new series will see Kimberley Walsh star as a meddling netball teacher.