Ian Lavender is back as EastEnders' Derek

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Dad's Army star Ian Lavender is preparing to return to the frontline of EastEnders for a special festive plot.

The actor, best known for playing Private Pike in the classic sitcom, was last seen on Albert Square in 2005 - but is set for another visit to Walford this Christmas where he will reprise his role as Derek Harkinson.

Fans of the BBC One soap will remember that Derek was a friend of late soap star Wendy Richard's character Pauline Fowler, who made a move on him but was turned down when he revealed that he was gay.

EastEnders Ian Lavender
Ian as Derek in EastEnders (BBC)

Derek stuck around in the square and became something of a father figure to Pauline's son Martin, but eventually decided to move away to spend more time with his family.

The return to the soap will see him reunited with Martin, now played by James Bye, but producers are keeping details of his storyline secret - saying only that he "will be seen in a number of episodes over the festive season as part of a storyline involving a number of the residents".

Ian said: "It was a lovely surprise to be back and I had a great time.

Dad's Army
Ian (back row, second from right) starred in Dad's Army (PA)

"It was brilliant to work with some old friends again, especially those who I only briefly got to work with before."

He will make his comeback on screen later this month, 15 years after his first appearance in the programme in November 2001.

EastEnders continues on BBC One tonight at 8pm.