Tamzin Outhwaite has quit EastEnders – and her soap bosses are already planning on an explosive exit for her character Mel Owen.
Tamzin, who returned to the soap as Mel in 2017, is leaving to 'pursue other challenges', despite being asked to continue on after her year's contract came up.
The actress's final scenes will air sooner rather than later – with her exit connected to her on-screen killer son Hunter (played by Charlie Winter) returning to Albert Square.
She told Metro : "When John (Yorke) asked me to return to EastEnders back in 2017, I jumped at the chance to play Mel once more but it was only supposed to be for a year.
"That year quickly passed and I agreed to stay on for another, but now the time feels right to once again pursue other challenges.
"I will of course miss so many people here at EastEnders, and I will forever have good memories of my time at the show, but I am also excited to experience new roles outside of Walford."
Executive producer Jon Sen added: "We are extremely grateful to Tamzin for reviving the character of Mel Owen back in 2017, allowing EastEnders fans the chance to see one of Walford’s most popular characters take centre stage once more.
"Tamzin is an incredible talent who has set our screens on fire with her wonderful performances in some of our most iconic storylines. We wish her the best of luck for the future."
It comes amid a deepening ratings crisis for EastEnders, which saw audience figures drop to an all-time low one day in June.
The popular soap had just 2.4 million viewers tuning in to one episode, with an unadvertised schedule change said to be to blame.
But insiders blamed the show's storylines for its decline, with one source telling the Sun: "The BBC has always prided itself on the enduring success of EastEnders but its popularity has slowly drooped over the past year.
"The ratings on Thursday were embarrassing, especially given in its heyday EastEnders would get over eight million.
"The storylines aren't resonating with fans and it doesn't seem to have any of those exciting 'doof doof' moments it's famed for."
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