Josh Saunders made his first appearance on 18 November 1997. He is portrayed by Jon Lee.
Josh Saunders is first seen as a pupil rescuing Clare Bates from a gang of bullies her former friends who become her enemies after she refuses to socialise with them. Clare develops an instant crush on Josh, and she spends the following few weeks trying to impress him. They start dating, despite initial objections from Clare's father, Nigel. It transpires that Josh is actually the son of Clare's teacher, Julie Haye. Clare is mortified by this initially, and she refuses to speak to Josh for a brief period. However, she soon comes to accept the situation, and is even pleased when her father begins dating Josh's mother.
Josh finds himself caught in the middle of his warring parents—his father, Eliot Saunders, is furious when Julie announces that she is planning to move to Scotland with Josh in 1998. Eliot is Jewish, and Josh is obliged to have a Bar Mitzvah to appease his father before he leaves for Scotland. Josh is initially opposed to this, as he is not remotely interested in religion. He starts missing his Bar Mitzvah tutorials, which does not please his father, but he ultimately decides to go ahead with the Bar Mitzvah. It takes place in March 1998 and Clare is present as his guest. Nigel and Julie's relationship ends when Nigel begins to have second thoughts, and Julie and Josh leave Walford for Scotland in April 1998. Clare is upset to see Josh go, they say their goodbyes, but just at the last minute, Nigel changes his mind again, and asks Julie if he and Clare can move to Scotland with her and Josh. Clare is overjoyed and Josh and Julie return to collect the Bateses a few weeks later.
Following Clare's return to Walford a decade later, in 2008, she reveals that as she had aged, Josh had taken her place in Nigel's affections.