Hollyoaks favourite Jacqui McQueen is set to leave the soap this spring in a dramatic effort to bring her family back together.
Actress Claire Cooper, who has played leather-loving Jacqui since 2006, will leave on screen in April. Since her first episode, her character has been held hostage in an abandoned church by her half-brother, been raped by her friend, Gilly Roach and lost her husband, Rhys in the tragic bus crash.
Speaking about her decision to leave, Claire commented: "I have had the most incredible and unforgettable time at Hollyoaks. Jacqui McQueen has been a fascinating part to play and I have nothing but gratitude to Channel 4 and Hollyoaks for giving me the opportunity. I would especially like to thank Bryan Kirkwood, whom I adore and have nothing but respect and praise for."
"It’s sad that I’m leaving when Hollyoaks is at such a high-point, especially with Bryan back at the helm, but it’s the right time for me personally to explore other avenues and see what other stories I can tell."
“To my family, friends, colleagues and fans, thank you for your support - it's been one hell of a ride for Miss McQueen and an inspirational one for me."
Bryan Kirkwood, executive producer, added: “Claire Cooper has created an unforgettable soap character in the indomitable Jacqui McQueen. I feel very protective and proud of Claire’s wonderful, tough, sexy, funny creation and she has struck a perfect balance of portraying Jacqui’s ‘hard as nails’ exterior, as well as her crushing vulnerability.
“I’m devastated to be losing Jacqui, but after six years of her wearing those thigh-high PVC boots, I respect Claire’s need to explore other roles. I wish her the best of luck – not that she’ll need it.”
Jacqui’s departure comes shortly after the arrival of her former cell-mate, Trudy Ryan (Danniella Westbrook) with whom she shares a dark secret. Could she be behind Jacqui’s exit from the village?