Celebrity gossip –Stacey Branning’s real-life sister ‘set to join EastEnders’

Cockney soap EastEnders is well known for ‘keepin’ it in the faaaaamily’, but it seems the bosses of the show have taken their plotlines a little too literally with their latest casting decision. According to The Sun’s celebrity gossip column, the BBC1 favourite is to bring in nine-year-old Lily Harvey – the real-life sister of Lacey Turner, also known as Stacey Branning.

However, Lily is reportedly not going to be an actual relative of the Slater clan, but will instead play Shenice – a “cheeky youngster” who is the daughter of Kat Moon’s new pal Martine (phew, hope you kept up with that). A newspaper source revealed: “She [Lacey] loved growing up on set and is happy to still have links. She’ll give Lily lots of advice and has made the older stars promise to look out for her. Lily takes after Lacey, she’s a star in the making.”

Lily is set to hit our screens in March, by which time her big sister will have departed the Square for good in a big Christmas Day storyline. As one of the show’s biggest names of the past decade bows out – and another star is born – it seems a great opportunity to look back on some of our all-time ‘Enders favourites…

The ultimate hard man… Phil Mitchell
He faces competition from his on-screen brother Grant – last seen sunning himself in Brazil – and murderous Steve Owen, but soap hardmen don’t come more ruthless than Phil Mitchell. With few actual friends in the Square – and few he hasn’t landed a punch on – he still retains a strange likeable quality that means you’re always secretly rooting for him.

The villain we love to hate… Nasty Nick Cotton
While Phil may have a villainous streak, he’s an angel compared to Nasty Nick. No matter how many times he disappoints (to put it mildly) his dear old ma Dot, the devout Christian never seems to give up on her wayward son.  From drug addiction to numerous attempted murders, Nick has etched his name firmly into soap history with his wicked antics over the past few decades.

The ultimate barmaid babe… Melanie Healy
From understated Tracey to celebrity news column favourites such as Jessie Wallace (Kat Moon) and Kara Tointon (Dawn Swann), many of our favourite soap women have pulled pints behind the famous bar in the Queen Vic.  But for us, Melanie Healy (Tamzin Outhwaite) brought a little high-end class to this East End boozer before becoming the latest woman to ditch lovable loser Ian Beale.

Whether Lily joins the great lineage of the show or becomes merely a footnote in the programme’s great history remains to be seen – but if her big sister’s journey over the past six years is anything to go by, it’s sure to be explosive.