Clare Higgins joins EastEnders as Max Branning's murder trial begins
Star of screen and stage Clare Higgins is to join EastEnders, as Max Branning's court trial kicks off.
The 59-year-old actress, best known for her roles in A Streetcar Named Desire, Vincent In Brixton, Sweet Bird Of Youth and films such as Hellraiser and The Golden Compass, will play prosecutor Hazel Warren in the BBC1 soap.
Higgins, who has also appeared in Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, said: "I had such a great time at EastEnders. It was a privilege to be part of such an exciting storyline and work with such a fantastic group of actors."
An innocent Max Branning will have to face a court after being charged with the murder of Lucy Beale.
The businessman, played by Jake Wood, was arrested in July as cops aimed to bring the Lucy murder investigation to a resolution.
Jeffery Kissoon, whose screen credits include Holby City, The Bill and Grange Hill, will portray Judge Anthony Abego, who is in charge of the proceedings.
Eagle-eyed EastEnders fans will recognise him from his previous role on the show as Patrick Trueman's friend Milton Hibbert in 2002.
Actor-writer Stephen Churchett will fight Max's corner as his defence lawyer Marcus Christie, with Suzette Llewellyn as Clerk of the Court and Rupert Holliday Evans as foreperson of the jury, John Cooksey.
Max's daughter Abi Branning - played by Lorna Fitzgerald - will take the stand during the trial. It would be the first time she has faced her father since she reported him to the police, which led to his arrest.
Max's trial begins on Tuesday September 15.