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Jim returning to Eastenders

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Jim Branning and Dot Cotton, Eastenders_REX
John Bardon is to return to EastEnders - just months after suffering a serious stroke.

The actor, who plays Jim Branning, lost his speech and the ability to walk after the attack last June.

But John, who's absence was explained by his on-screen character having the same condition, is said to have made great progress and has told show bosses that he wants to start filming again.

Screen-wife Dot Cotton, played by June Brown, 81, is said to be chuffed he's making a comeback.

'June is thrilled John is returning,' an insider tells The Sun. 'John is doing really well and we're overwhelmed he wants to return. Other people who have suffered serious strokes can be given a boost by watching John.'

John, 68, is expected to film his first scenes in the summer.

Meanwhile, former co-star Wendy Richards, 64, who played Pauline Fowler, says she left EastEnders because of disagreements over storylines and heavy filming schedules.

'I consider EastEnders to be in the past, finished,' she tells the Daily Mirror. 'I stopped watching it before I left. I feel better in myself. I have no stress any more. It's quite a release. Life is more relaxed. My shoulders were tight all the time before.'

Pauline was killed off on Christmas Day 2006.

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