EastEnders bosses have found their new Johnny Carter, with actor Ted Reilly taking over the popular role.
Reilly will play the recast version of Danny Dyer’s on-screen son when Johnny returns to our screens later this year.
The character of Johnny was last seen on screen on Christmas Day 2014.
Johnny will be heading back to Albert Square after spending time travelling abroad, and it’s thought that show chiefs have some big storylines in store for him.
New recruit Reilly has previously appeared in a number of television dramas, including Grantchester, Call The Midwife, Law & Order: UK, Casualty and Suspects. He’s also worked on several theatre productions.
“Johnny is a key member of the Carter family and he’s been missing over the past year and a half, when so much has happened to the Carters,” executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins explained. “As the family embark on their next big storyline to take them through 2016, it felt wrong not to have Johnny back to play a big part in that – and learn everything that has happened while he has been away… We have so much in store for Johnny and so many stories to tell and, after massive casting sessions and recalls with Danny and Kellie, we have found in Ted not only a brilliant actor, but the perfect Johnny Carter.”
Reilly added: “I’m truly delighted to be joining such an iconic show. The Carters are a fantastic family and I can’t wait to get started.”
A source close to Ted said: “He knows this is a big chance for him and he is really excited about joining the soap. Johnny was a controversial character before with lots of big storylines so he will come back onto the show with a bang.”
EastEnders bosses announced their decision to recast Johnny earlier this month. The popular character was previously played by Sam Strike for a one-year stint from December 2013.
Discussing the recast plan last week, a show spokesperson explained: “There are so many more stories that we wanted to tell with Johnny, so we felt that the time was right to unite the Carter family again.
“The Carter family quickly became one of EastEnders’s most iconic families and there are lots of stories planned for them, but it was felt it would be a shame if those stories had to be told without Johnny’s involvement.”
Strike later exclusively told us that he wasn’t ready to return himself, having left to pursue other acting projects.
He added: “I think it’s a great thing and that the character needs a facelift – and I wish whoever lands it the best of luck.”
Strike’s portrayal of Johnny was met with critical praise, specifically the scenes where Johnny came out to his father. Both Strike’s and Danny Dyer’s (aka Mick Carter) sensitive performances during this scene were praised.
On this particular scene, Strike said, “With that scene where Johnny comes out to Mick, I was really nervous the night it aired, because you want it to look convincing but then you want to do justice by the people that have been there and done it. It was a real proving ground for me, because it was the first time I actually had to do any proper drama acting.” In an online video on the official website, Strike said, “I’ve had letters and Danny’s had letters saying that we’d helped people to come out, and it makes things worth it.
After Strike’s departure, EastEnders’ executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said that he has no plans to recast the character of Johnny and that the “door is wide open” for Strike to return. He also added that he would “hope that Sam would come back”.
Since leaving the soap, Strike has been cast in upcoming crime drama film Bonded By Blood 2, which is set to be released in March 2016.
He has also had been cast as Jackson Sawyer, the teenager who became Leatherface, in the upcoming The Texas Chain Saw Massacre prequel Leatherface, Starring alongside Stephen Dorff, the film which is set to be released in late 2016 revolves around a teenage Leatherface who escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnaps a young nurse and takes her on a road trip from hell. Along the way, they are pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge. It is written by Seth M. Sherwood and set to be directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo. Filming began 18 May 2015 in Bulgaria and ended on 19 June 2015. He also starred in Silent Witness in January 2016.