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Tamzin Outhwaite reveals real reason she decided to return to EastEnders

The actress is set to reprise her role as fan favourite Mel Owen

Gemma Strong

Tamzin Outhwaite has revealed that a painful injury forced her to reassess her career options, ultimately leading to her EastEnders return. It was announced earlier this week that Tamzin, 46, is reprising her role as Mel Owen on the BBC soap after 16 years away. Prior to her return, the actress had been working in theatre, but she was forced to pull out of the West End show Stepping Out after suffering a stress fracture on her metatarsal. Seven months on, she said her foot is still in the "long process" of healing, and confirmed: "I'll be doing more TV than theatre now."

Speaking to the Mirror, Tamzin explained: "I've just done a couple of years in theatre, which I love, but now it's time to do some telly. Sometimes I think someone's looking after you up there. That's exactly what I need to do."

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Tamzin Outhwaite is set to return to EastEnders as Mel Owen

As well as her on-stage career, Tamzin has been focused on her two children, daughter Florence, nine, and five-year-old Marnie, who she shares with ex-husband Tom Ellis. She admitted that she struggled to manage the long theatre hours with being a mum. "I spent a year on Sweet Charity the musical, but Flo was teething. She would be up every night and I was doing eight shows a week. I thought, maybe I can't do this anymore," she said. "The last few years have been short of jobs, and a lot more free time. The slowing down has been quite gradual. My priorities have changed. Now I'm OK saying 'No'. If I audition for things and don't get them, there's two beautiful faces looking at me and I'm home."

STORY: Tamzin Outhwaite: split from husband Tom Ellis came as a 'complete shock'

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Tamzin and her on-screen husband Martin Kemp (Steve Owen) pictured in 1998

Tamzin is set to return to EastEnders in the new year, having made her first appearance in 1998. The star, who was most recently seen on screen in New Tricks, said: "EastEnders is in my DNA and I always knew deep down that someday I would revisit Mel." EastEnders creative director John Yorke has promised an "incredible storyline" for Mel that will "awaken a lot of old ghosts, some great memories, and a whole new series of adventures too". Viewers last saw Mel in April 2002 when she left Walford following the death of her husband Steve Owen - played by Martin Kemp. She faced a prison sentence but then fled the country after Phil Mitchell put up £30,000 bail money.

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