Actor Danny Dyer will leave EastEnders later this year, the BBC has confirmed.
Dyer, who plays Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter, is not quitting immediately, with the BBC promising “plenty of explosive drama” before he goes.
EastEnders said Dyer, who joined the show in 2013, transformed Mick Carter into a “iconic character” for whom they will be “always grateful.”
“Danny will be leaving EastEnders when his contract expires later this year,” the company said in a statement.
“However, we won’t be saying goodbye just yet because Mick still has a long time – and plenty of explosive drama – before he leaves Walford.”
Dyer’s persona Mick has gained popularity among viewers since his debut nine years ago.
Mick has remained behind the bar at the Queen Victoria pub ever since, marrying Linda Carter, played by Kellie Bright.
“Danny made the decision quite some time ago that he would leave the show this year, which has given bosses plenty of time to plan a huge storyline for him,” an EastEnders source said.
With the return of his on-screen wife this year, Dyer’s character will be “at the heart of some big drama,” according to the source.
Dyer, 44, won three National Television Awards for her performance in the serial drama.
A spokeswoman for the soap said Dyer had not been blocked from other projects, following reports in the Mirror newspaper.
Before joining EastEnders, Dyer was best known for appearing in British films like Mean Machine and The Football Factory.
He also fronted his own TV series – Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men.
In 2017, he appeared in an episode of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, in which he found out he was related to royalty.
Dyer discovered that he is descended from William the Conqueror, Edward III and Thomas Cromwell.