EastEnders legend Natalie Cassidy made a moving appearance on the semi-final of Strictly Come Dancing.

During Saturday night's episode on BBC, the actress spoke over a video link to her co-star Maisie Smith.

Natalie, 37, portrays iconic Sonia Fowler in the soap opera and Maisie plays her on-screen niece, Tiffany Butcher-Baker.

As Maisie, 19, competed in the semi-final for a place in next week's final on the dancing show, reports The Mirror.

Following a 'couple's choice' dance which received praise from the judges, Maisie was delighted to hear Natalie on the surprise message.

Natalie said: "Mais' I've known you since you were five, you really are my TV niece.

"Your TV auntie is so proud of you. Get out there and smash it!

"All the love in the world."

The actress then blew a kiss to the screen.

A delighted Maisie then exclaimed: "Ahhh, Auntie Nat."

Fans responded well to the appearance on social media after the surprise message was aired.

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One fan wrote on Twitter: "Imagine Natalie Cassidy giving you a good luck message. I would DIE  #strictly  ".

And a different user penned: "Natalie Cassidy getting more airtime on Strictly than she does on EastEnders these days  #Strictly  ".

Elsewhere, another said: "Sonia from EastEnders! <3  #Strictly  ".

Another viewer, in a reference to Sonia's trumpet playing, wrote: "SONIA ON STRICTLY.  #TRUMPET  ".

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The sweet moment comes as the EastEnders family mourns the tragic death of Dame Barbara Windsor, who passed away on Thursday evening with her husband by her side.

Barbara, known as Babs,  played the iconic Queen Vic landlady, Peggy Mitchell on the soap.

Natalie's on-screen sister and Maisie's on-screen mum, Patsy Palmer, appeared on The One Show on Friday and was tearful following the news.

She began to well up after seeing a moving montage of Barbara's time in the show.

"She was very funny," an emotional Patsy told both host  Alex Jones  and fellow EastEnders alum  Shane Richie. "Obviously we were great friends, off screen I was close with Scott. So many years of so many memories.

"She just was the most professional person there … she always looked after  June [Brown], took her to lunch."

EastEnders airs on Mondays and Fridays at 8.10pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.40pm.

  • Eastenders
  • Strictly Come Dancing

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