Diederick Santer (Executive Producer, 'EastEnders')

Since taking the helm in October 2006, Diederick Santer has propelled BBC One's East-End soap from strength to strength. Having axed a fair few sidelined characters along the way, his landmark castings have included Mitchell sisters Ronnie and Roxy (Samantha Janus and Rita Simons), Jase Dyer (Stephen Lord) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), among others. His most notable call came in the reinstating of Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen) and Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer) to their Walford home. Here, Diederick chats to DS about what's in store for EastEnders in the coming weeks.

Will we ever meet Bianca's partner Tony when he emerges from prison?
"Well we've heard so much already about Tony and we are building up a picture, aren't we? Bianca obviously thinks the world of him and I think we would all be interested to see him!"

The Masoods have been in the show for a good few months now - would it be fair to say that we've not really seen a lot of them at all?
"I would say we have seen them lots. But over the next few weeks and months there are even more stories coming for the Masoods. Masood himself returns from Pakistan shortly but before he does Zainab and Shabnam have some very big moments. We'll begin to learn a lot more
about what makes this family tick."

Jake Wood should be back with you at some point in the next few weeks - can you give us any clues as to where Max has been? Will he come back a new man? Or will he be back for revenge?
"Well Max has been experiencing 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness - a B&B in Hastings. Whether he's changed or after revenge, that's for the audience and Tanya to work out. He's such a complex character (and is performed with such skill and subtlety by Jake), his motives are never immediately clear."

Jack's a pretty complex character and was drafted in via somewhat of a whirlwind - where is his character headed?
"We've only just scratched the surface with Jack. Who knows the exact circumstances of his departure from the police force? And is his motive for wanting to be with Tanya entirely sincere? Is it all over with Ronnie? There's loads to explore in the Jack/Max relationship too. All will be revealed."

What can you tell us about Suzy Branning?
"She's not on screen for a couple of months, but when she is, viewers will soon notice that Suzy Branning is never far from her large pink handbag - but what exactly does it contain?"

Can you tell us a little more about Archie Mitchell? What's Larry Lamb like in the role now he's begun filming?
"Archie is charming, attractive and very confident - he's an old school London type and 100% Mitchell. I've only seen a handful of scenes that Larry's done so far but I think he's giving a mesmerising and multi-layered performance. There's quite a buzz coming up from the set, and I'm really excited about him."

What do we learn about the Mitchell sisters from their father?
"Archie will give us a real picture of what the girls' life growing up was like. However, his memory of it and Ronnie's are a little different."

If I've done the maths correctly, it won't be long before Diane Parish is back with you...
"Diane as Denise will be on screen in a few weeks. She walks into some pretty shocking chaos involving Chelsea, Patrick and her no-good ex, Lucas (played by the wonderful Don Gilet)."

You said not so long ago that you haven't finished with Bradley and Stacey - can you elaborate?
"Bradley and Stacey are the couple that everyone wants to be together. However, there is so much water under the bridge it would take quite a lot for Bradley to give Stacey another chance. I do think though that, at some deep level, they do care dearly for one another... But that is all I'm going to say for now."

You managed to keep Mad May's return under wraps for weeks - how excited are you and the production team about having her back?
"Oh, it's thrilling to have Amanda back. I had a secret meeting with her in January - at which I pitched the idea and to my delight she loved it and was really keen! It's great having her back and I hope viewers will feel the same. There will be quite a few surprises."

EastEnders is becoming well acknowledged for its decisions to take a step outside the box, as it were, and try controversial storylines like Jay's stabbing and The Vic raid - what's next?
"I'd like to think we take risks of all kind - for example the hugely successful Dot episode. As regards the grittier issues - we've got some interesting and thought provoking stuff in the pipeline."

What's the latest on EastEnders moving to HD filming?
"No decisions have been made but we are still busy doing tests, many of which look absolutely fantastic."

And what about the set move?
"Again no decisions yet, but it's still a strong possibility."

And also on the cards...
- One pregnancy, two possible fathers - and even when the father finds out, will he want to be part of their life?
- Memories come flooding back for one Walford resident and another who's not entirely sure why they're there...
- And one resident don't realise the dramatic consequences which lie in store when he makes a new acquaintance...

Thanks for chatting to us, Diederick!