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EastEnders return as Ava Hartman makes huge comeback after Rainie Highway drops clue?

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Ava (played by Clare Perkins) is the eldest daughter of EastEnders matriarch Cora Cross (Ann Mitchell) and the sister of Rainie (Tanya Franks) and former Walford resident, Tanya Branning (Jo Joyner) who featured in storylines for over a year back in 2012. The mother of one was on a mission to find her birth family after being given up for adoption when she was born and found herself at the centre of a lot of drama on the Square. However, having built a life for herself away from the BBC soap over the past eight years, she could make a visit to catch up on what’s been happening with her younger sister.

As part of an ongoing storyline for Cora in 2012, Ava was introduced as the daughter she gave up for adoption and it was difficult when the pair reunited.

It took some months for them to accept they were now in each other’s lives and the mother of three explained back in the 60s, it was difficult for a white woman to be looking after a black baby.

The pair formed a strong relationship and eventually, Ava’s son Dexter Hartman (Khali Best) joined the show and the pair established themselves as an extended branch of the Cross/Branning family.

By the end of 2013, Cora’s eldest daughter was offered a job in Newcastle and this is where she has been living ever since and in a touching farewell, she called Cora “mum” for the first time.

She never got to meet Rainie on-screen so returning to the Square with her sister now an established character could bring her back to the soap for good.

Rainie dropped the clue about Ava’s comeback in a discussion with Vi Highway (Gwen Taylor), who is currently going through her own heartbreak.

Recent scenes have seen the matriarch of the family reveal how she gave up her son Christopher for adoption as she fell pregnant with him when she was in her 50s.

He was born with Downs Syndrome and she thought he would be better with a family who could give him a better life than she could.

The grandmother of Stuart Highway (Ricky Champ) and his brother Callum Highway (Tony Clay) felt she couldn’t tell them about her secret.

However, Rainie persuaded her to as she divulged Cora’s past with Ava and how they found happiness despite all their troubles.

My mother, she gave a child up

Rainie Highway

In a scene during Tuesday’s extended episode, Rainie explained to Vi: “My mother, she gave a child up when she was younger.

“But it stayed with her, that hurt and that guilt and when she met [Ava] years later, that daughter she gave up she had a good life.

“A great life and she knew mum had suffered. She just wanted to say to her, ‘Mum, it’s ok’,” Rainie continued to say.

This is the first time Ava has been mentioned in several years so this could a subtle clue bosses are planning on bringing her back.

Jon Sen, who is the current executive producer, is going to be leaving his position very soon as a new era dawns on the Square.

It could be part of new executive producer Chris Clenshaw’s plan to bring Ava back as there are not many members of the Branning/Cross family left.

With Tanya and Cora nowhere to be seen, Ava could be the right person to help Rainie as she navigates her way through motherhood.

With a baby on the way, it could be perfect for Rainie to have a family member such as her older sister supporting her along the way.

But will the pair get up to some mischief as the former Walford resident did have a more jovial side to her personality?

Speaking at the time her character was on the show, the actress who played Ava, Clare, disused her alter-ego’s relationship with Cora.

The soap star explained: “They were both living in Albert Square, so it was kind of ridiculous that they played a cat-and-mouse game.

“With one of them being nice, and the other refusing the invitation and pretending that they’re not bothered.

“It was quite unhealthy for both of them to not be exploring their many issues, so I think it was a good thing to see their relationship blossoming,” she told Digital Spy.

But having not met Rainie on-screen before, will Ava be more willing to grow a relationship with her youngest sister?

Or will she put up a front as she did with Cora and the two women struggle to find some common ground?

EastEnders continues Thursday at 7:35pm on BBC One.

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