James Lock and Yazmin Oukhellou make surprise return to Towie and claim they're 'stronger than ever' after leaving to save their relationship

TOWIE'S James Lock and his girlfriend Yazmin have made an unexpected return to the ITVBe show after quitting to save their relationship.

The couple left Essex to focus on a new wellness retreat in Morocco, but surprised cast-mates at the series launch party last night by announcing they're back "stronger than ever".

Speaking at the launch of the new series of the hit show at Essex hotspot Sheesh last night, Yaz exclusively told The Sun Online: "Everyone thought we'd been axed, but we're back.

"We wanted to surprise everyone in the cast, so they had no idea we were coming back until we arrived here."

James – known as Lockie – revealed: "We've had some happy receptions and others haven't been as happy to see us."

He added: "Some people have bad weeks, bad months, bad years and for us we had a bad year. But it hasn't broken us and we've moved on from it. It's made us stronger and more positive."

Last night Pete Wicks warmed up the crowd at the celeb-filled bash, taking a moment to specially welcome his friend back to the show.

James and Yaz stopped filming for the previous series and did not feature in the rest of the show.

A source close to the couple revealed at the time: “James and Yaz have taken a break from the show but are both set to return in the New Year.

“They have struggled with their relationship this series but love and care for each other so want to do whatever it takes to get back on track.

“Time away from the cameras hasn’t come at a better time for Yazmin who is in the process of setting up a fitness boot camp that she hopes will refocus her mind.

“She’s in demand at the moment after overcoming her recent issues and has been offered numerous other TV shows.”

They have been travelling back and forth between Essex and Morocco where they set up their new business.

Hoping to bring back her "healthy and positive" vibes from overseas back to the show, Yaz added: "I'm not interested in having fights or dramas with anyone anymore, it's so immature now.

"We've set up our own wellness retreat and I've got healthy and positive vibes to put into that. I haven't got time to be wasting my energy with silly arguments.

"If anyone wants to create those dramas needs to get a job."

Before the launch of the 24th ITVBe series, Amber Turner, James Lock, Myles Barnett, Jon Clark and seven other stars were sensationally given the boot.

They're been replaced by a bunch of new-signings including a semi-pro footballer, personal trainer, model and a mother daughter combo.

It's a break with tradition bringing in new stars with no links to the present cast.

Sources say some of the current stars were left furious with the shake-up.

So far bosses have kept them apart from the older cast members on and off screen, but old and new will meet for the first time at the bash.

So far viewers haven't been impressed by the newbies, and slammed them as "boring" and "too young" with the youngest, Joey Turner, just 17.

Others accused them of being "reincarnations" of past cast members, with Joey likened to Harry Derbridge and pal Chloe Brockett thought to be similar to Amy Childs.

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