Eastenders actor Scott Maslen has announced that his character Jack Branning will leave Albert Square at the end of his current contract with the BBC soap!
Maslen, who first appeared as businessman Jack in 2007 will film his final scenes later in the year, when his contract with the show expires, meaning that his character will make his exit at the end of 2013.
Maslen told press today: ''I've loved playing Jack, and who wouldn't want to work on one of the most successful British TV series, but I've been offered many other roles and just not been able to explore them in the past, simply because of time and commitments to Eastenders, and so now it feels like the time to tread a new path for a while.''
''I've played Jack for five and a half years and had some fantastic storylines, but it's now time to have a break from him and try something different. I'm incredibly attached to Jack, his family and EastEnders, but as an actor I'd like to take on some new challenges for a bit. EastEnders is just incredible, it's phenomenally rewarding and I love working here, but now it's time to move on to pastures new."
Executive producer for the soap, Lorraine Newman commented: ''Since October 2007, Scott Maslen has brought the wonderful Jack Branning to life on our screens. From Scott's heart-wrenching portrayal of a grieving father, to Jack's determination in the coming week to take on Phil Mitchell, the variety in Scott's material shows his fabulous range as an actor.''
''Scott will remain on your screens until late in the year, and there is plenty more drama to be played out before his departure."
His character Jack has been in a relationship with Sharon Rickman (Letitia Dean) since her return last year but her connection to Jack's arch-rival Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) is set to cause trouble for all three in the coming weeks.