EastEnders favourite Kat Slater is allegedly set to make a shock return to Albert Square in the New Year.

Viewers had last seen the character, played by Jessie Wallace, lying lifeless after a boat crash in spin-off drama Redwater.

But it appears Kat made it through as soap's returning boss John Yorke is keen to have Wallace back in the show reprising her role in a new and exciting storyline.

It was Yorke who introduced the Slater family in 2000.

The television producer is said to love the Slaters and feels that they should be "at the heart of the show".

A source told the Mirror: "Kat Slater was a huge and popular character in EastEnders and John was in charge when the Slaters first came into the soap.

"Her marriage to Alfie Moon was one of the biggest relationships in the soap.

"Now John is back in charge again he has managed to persuade Jessie to come back to with a host of new storylines. He knows millions will be excited to see what he has in store for the character."

Wallace has appeared on EastEnders for over 10 years in two separate stints, first between 2000 to 2005 and then between 2010 to 2016.

Kat and husband Alfie (Shane Richie) left Walford to search for her long-lost son in Ireland, a story that was followed in the sister show Redwater.

With the couple being fan favourites, Redwater was expected to do well, but viewer numbers started to dwindle after the very first episode and it was never taken up for a second series.

For her role as Kat in EastEnders, Wallace has won numerous awards including the National Television Awards for Most Popular Newcomer in 2001 and the British Soap Award for Best Actress in 2011.

BBC soap bosses are also hoping that Kat's homecoming will boost the ailing show ratings next year.

Since Yorke took charge of EastEnders this year, he has made a number of changes to the show. He introduced new characters Aidan Maguire played by Patrick Bergin and Kandice Taylor played by Hannah Spearritt, while axing the characters of Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa) and Abi Branning (Lorna Fitzgerald).

He also reinstated Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra) and, apart from Wallace, is reportedly bringing back Tamzin Outhwaite's character Melanie Owen in 2018.