It had been four years since we last seen Sam Mitchell flee from Walford, on the run in Brazil to escape her prison sentence. Actress Kim Medcalf had portrayed the character since 2002, and during her time we saw Sam involved with a bag-full of men, becoming quite a businesswomen, and being involved with the murder of Den Watts. However, long before Kim Medcalf was cast as the Mitchell sister, the character was introduced to Albert Square back in 1990, in the form of Daniella Westbrook. Daniella appeared in the soap on and off until 2000, when Sam was axed from the show due to Daniella's drug addiction.
When the news of Sam's return was let out, fans of the soap all had their own opinions created even before filming had commenced. Having been clean for a number of years, Daniella was recast, and this was admired by those fans who adored EastEnders when Sam first came into it. However many of those who were used to Kim Medcalf's portrayal of the character did not take too fondly to this news. Only time was going to tell if the 'new' Sam was going to go down well with the viewers - Westbrook herself has claimed she felt “happy” when she was approached and asked to return to the show.
Sam's return shook up the Square as the Mitchell's tried to keep her hidden, but that was easier said than done. Slowly word began to spread and before long, it had reached the likes of Bianca and Archie. Bianca may have despised the return of this particular Mitchell, but for Ricky it seemed to be the most wonderful thing in the world. The chemistry between Sid Owen and Westbrook is fantastic, and has created an amazing storyline as Sam and Ricky are reunited once again.
It was evident that Sam was now going to be a lot more like the true Mitchell she was when she first came into the soap. During Medcalf's portrayal, Westbrook was living in Los Angeles and was unable to watch the show. This meant that she only really knew the way she portrayed Sam some years ago. Medcalf created a Sam that was a little more soft, perhaps filled with a little less 'Mitchell spirit'. Though as soon as Sam returned on the 4th September 2009, with Ricky Butcher on her arm, it was clear that she was as feisty and flamboyant as she had ever been.
Westbrook states that she is bringing “glamour” to Sam now, and indeed this is clear! The wardrobe department must be brimming with its selection of exciteful garments now owned by Sam. Although she has only been in the show a week, already Sam has been seen in more items of clothing that imaginable, each one more gorgeous than the next.
With her return, Westbrook was looking forward to being reunited with characters such as “Ricky, Phil, Peggy, Bianca and Ian”. She has also claimed that she has been looking forward to working with Samantha Womack, who plays Ronnie, as the two went to school together. As well as her working alongside her co-stars, Westbrook's highlights from her return include “wearing bright clothes and working hard”.
She may have only been on the Square for a week, but Sam Mitchell has created a stir for her own family and everybody else who has crossed her path. Having just been arrested, who knows what will happen to the much loved character now? It would seem that Westbrook's return has indeed gone down exceptionally, and many who feel they are 'true Medcalf fans' have even warmed to her. Daniella would like Sam and Roxy “to be friends”, but if Sam gets sent down that will be a task even for the brilliant script writers. Will she be released and able to live her life, or is it straight to prison for Sam Mitchell?