Last week it was announced that Samantha Womack would be back as Ronnie Mitchell for a six-month stint on EastEnders.

She opens up about returning from the sensitive storyline that saw her exit the soap two years ago.

Speaking to The Daily Mirror, Womack said: "Deep down, thought-provoking, psychological drama is where my heart lies. EastEnders gives you an opportunity to do all that.

"It was only when I came away that I realised, ­actually, you don't really get to do that anywhere else. I'm very, very fond of my character, I love the place and I love the people. I was knackered when I left but I never ruled out going back."

Womack left the soap in 2011 after a controversial baby-snatching storyline involving Ronnie.

"People would recognise me as Ronnie in the street all the time. When other characters started talking about Ronnie being due for release from prison earlier this year, it intensified," she said.

"That's how powerful that ­storyline was - people are still talking about it two years on. It was a brilliant plot-line but it was so intense and emotionally draining; I was exhausted."

Womack felt that her exit in July 2011 was the correct time to leave: "Imagine going to work every day and screaming and crying and going through that whole range of emotions."

She continued: "I was really spoilt with the storyline and I wouldn't change it, but I really lived it.

"I was ready for a break, but I was conscious that the viewers were probably ready for a break from me, too. You can never take fame or popularity for granted."