Eastenders executives have cast Cornell S John as Dexter's father, Sam James.

John plays the father of Dexter Hartman, who left a pregnant Ava when he went out to get milk and never returned. He has never met his son, but is determined to forge a relationship with him following the death of his own father.

Lorraine Newman, executive producer of the soap, welcomed the casting, saying: "Cornell's powerful presence and natural gravitas will ensure he's a strong presence on screen".

"The addition of Sam gives us a solid family unit with Dexter and Ava. However, after such a long absence, sparks are sure to initially fly. Let's just hope he's got the milk!"

John added "It's a great honour and pleasure to be joining the EastEnders family. I look forward to working with the cast and to Sam's adventures on the square".

John is most famous for his roles in Kidulthood, Adulthood and The Chronicles of Narnia and will be first seen in the soap in scenes aired next month.