Who played the old Lauren Branning in EastEnders and what happened to her?

EASTENDERS fans were left confused after watching Lauren Branning in the soap’s iconic Max and Stacey Christmas Day episode prior to Jacqueline Jossa joining the show.

So who played the old Lauren Branning? Here’s the lowdown…

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Who played the old Lauren Branning in EastEnders?

The character of Lauren was previously played by actress Madeline Duggan, who first made an appearance in EastEnders in 2006.

Madeline was the original Lauren and starred in a number of hard-hitting storylines. 

She will go down in EastEnders history as the one who played the video exposing Max Branning’s affair with daughter-in-law Stacey to the entire family on Christmas Day in 2007.

Why did the old Lauren leave EastEnders?

Madeline left the show in June 2010 and three months later Jacqueline Jossa was recast as Lauren.

Answering questions on Twitter last night after the iconic EastEnders Christmas episode aired, Madeline said in retrospect that she was “very glad” that her role had been recast. 

She said: "Unmmmmmmm I understand it more now lol I looked like a baby in that ep and I was tiny and didn’t grow (still only 5’2).

"I get that they wanted someone older to play different story lines & I'm very glad it happened."

Madeline continued: "I was very young and it give me options to do other things and get an American agent and enjoy some teenage life without being on screen lol worked out for the best."

What has Madeline Duggan starred in since leaving EastEnders?

Since leaving the soap in 2010, Madeline has starred in a number of shows including Dani’s House and Rules of Love. 

The actress then bagged a role in BBC One’s long-running drama Silent Witness in 2012. 

More recently Madeline has starred in Dates, The Smoke and TV series The Tunnel.

Earlier this year Madeline explained in a tweet that she had been working in a GP while talking about people avoiding surgeries because of the coronavirus.  

She wrote: "I know this because I work in a doctors surgery part time (because being an out of work actress doesn’t pay lol)."

Is Jacqueline Jossa returning to EastEnders?

Jacqueline Jossa hinted last month that she’d love to return to Albert Square. 

When asked by one of her social media followers whether she’d ever return to the show, Jacqueline replied: "Maybe one day. I LOVED my time on the show."

Paying tribute to the show as it celebrated its 35th anniversary back in February, Jacqueline teased that the door will always be open for Lauren's return.

The star posted pictures of her time on the BBC show on Instagram with the caption: “I had such an amazing time and LOVED Lauren Branning with ALL of my heart! I miss you lozza, maybe see you again one day.

“Amazing week of eps congrats everyone involved!”

Why did Jacqueline Jossa leave EastEnders?

Jacqueline made a dramatic exit from the soap in 2018 during her sister Abi’s funeral.

The single mother made the decision to venture to New Zealand where her ex Peter was living to try and rekindle their relationship.

She left viewers confused as she marched straight out of the funeral and past her boyfriend Josh – and seemingly straight into the graveyard.

Peter’s return to EastEnders as a singleton back in February 2020 left fans hoping that she’d be following in his footsteps.

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