Iconic Soap Star Leaves Show With Her Final Episode Already Aired

The actress exited after initially appearing on the soap from 2002 to 2005.

Kim Medcalf has decided to leave EastEnders just months after she returned to the soap as Sam Mitchell. Two years ago, the 50-year-old actress rejoined the BBC soap after originally appearing from 2002 to 2005.

After taking a break last year, she returned at the end of 2023, and her last episode aired on Jan. 18. As it turns out, Medcalf's return was only ever planned to be a brief one, with her character leaving the show after a heated exchange with her brother Phil. 

Medcalf said about her latest departure from the soap, per Daily Mail, "It's been brilliant, as always! It was perfect timing for me and worked really well that Sam was coming back for another short stint. That's the beauty of this character – I love that she comes in, disrupts things, and then leaves the debris behind her."

"This time, she's been chucked out the back of a van, taken £100,000 from Phil to pay back a drug dealer and then blown up his marriage to Kat! There's a lot of drama with Sam, and it's never plain sailing. Hopefully, she'll be back again sometime for another stint of causing chaos."

Adding that she has always enjoyed playing the character, Medcalf said she "respects her honesty." She said, "I love playing Sam because she is so liberated. Sam just says what she sees; not many of us do that because you'd cause chaos! I don't think she is hugely devious. Instead, she's kneejerk in the moment."

Medcalf had previously played the role between 2002 and 2005, and then by Danniella Westbrook in 2009. It follows Westbrook's threat to sue the soap because she was unaware Medcalf had replaced her. After Medcalf's return was announced, Westbrook took to Twitter to announce the BBC soap would hear from her "legal team" and her upcoming book would reveal secrets that she "never told."

She wished Medcalf well as she reprised the role, saying that Medcalf would have to portray the role as close to her version as possible. Westbrook added, "Oh but not to @BBCEastEnders my legal team will be in touch to know why when I held the... @bbceastenders contract too the last two times the character bounced in &out on a ratings or stint. For the record I was never sacked or dismissed and saw out both contracts one of them even being extended for episodes."

In the days following the casting announcement, Westbrook told The Sun that she felt "shocked" not to have been informed beforehand. She said, 'I've been known as Sam Mitchell for 32 years. But nobody at EastEnders contacted me to let me know they had recast Kim in the role. There wasn't even an email to my agent. I was shocked because they do have a responsibility to tell me, and someone should have." The TV star continued, "The bosses have seen me go through addiction, and they have no idea where I am today. Thankfully I'm OK. But if I hadn't been it could have had very serious consequences for me." 

In 1990, Sam Mitchell made her first appearance on the show, initially played by Westbrook, but was replaced in 2002 by Medcalf due to her widely publicized cocaine addiction.