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Former EastEnders star Rita Simons joins Hollyoaks as Joel Dexter’s mother

British actress Rita Simons has joined the cast of Hollyoaks as Joel Dexter’s mother Marie.

The soap star, 46, played Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders until 2017, when she was killed off alongside her sister Ronnie

Viewers will catch a first-look at her character in an after-credit trailer after an hour-long Hollyoaks special airing on Tuesday.

Rita Simons
Soap star Rita Simons has joined Hollyoaks (Ian West/PA)

After leaving prison, Marie will sneak into the Chester village and try to steal Mercedes’ red dress from the McQueens’ washing line.

She has short blonde hair and her hands in the pockets of a pink bomber jacket, standing next to a sign that says “welcome to Hollyoaks village”.

Simons said: “Marie’s got a lot of ties here, so I think there’s going to be quite a lot of trouble between quite a few characters, and you will just have to keep watching to see.”

She stars opposite Rory Douglas-Speed who has played Joel since 2016, Nicole Barber-Lane, who plays Hollyoaks matriarch Myra McQueen, and her daughters Cleo and Theresa, when they return to Chester.

Myra left the village in 2019 after she was ditched at the altar by her fiance Sally, who had discovered she was being cheated on.

Theresa, played by Jorgie Porter, left the village in November 2022 and her return was teased in the soap’s New Year trailer.

After being offered a job opportunity on a research project in India, Cleo, played by Nadine Mulkerrin, bid farewell to Hollyoaks in 2022 but will be returning to try to reconnect with Joel.

British Soap Awards 2019
Nadine Mulkerrin will return to Hollyoaks (Lindsey Parnaby/PA)

Cleo will be joined by a secret admirer with whom she has had a fling – Abe Fielding, played by Tyler Conti.

Conti said: “Abe is a charming working-class young lad with a manipulative streak a mile wide.

“The ingredients of a deeply troubled past and a complicated family life have brewed his dangerous temper, especially when things don’t go his way.

“I can’t wait for Abe to explode into the Hollyoaks village, you can expect danger, manipulation and one heck of a messy family that comes with.”

Mulkerrin said: “I am so happy to be back in the world of Hollyoaks being Cleo.

“I feel re-energised and super excited for all the amazing storylines coming my way.”

She added: “The fans can expect some unfinished business between Cleo and Joel and a new mysterious man for Cleo who has a few red flags.”

An hour-long episode of Hollyoaks featuring a special after-credit trailer will air at 7pm on E4 on Tuesday January 16 and is available to stream on Channel 4.