Danny Dyer, who has played the character of Mick Carter in EastEnders for nearly a decade, will leave the soap later this year, the BBC has confirmed.
He first stepped onto Albert Square in 2013 and moved into the Queen Vic, becoming the pub’s landlord.
Dyer won’t be leaving the soap imminently, however, with the broadcaster saying fans can expect some "explosive drama" ahead of his departure.
A spokesperson for the soap said: "Danny will be leaving EastEnders when his contract comes to an end later this year.
"Danny has made Mick Carter an iconic character, which we shall always be grateful for, however we won’t be saying goodbye just yet as there’s still quite some time – and plenty of explosive drama for Mick – to come before he departs Walford."
There had been speculation that Dyer’s departure has plunged the show into a crisis, and that the 44-year-old had been blocked from starring in other projects – claims denied by the soap.
A friend of Dyer’s said to the PA news agency: "Danny loves EastEnders but as an actor he feels the time is right to explore other roles.
"He’s incredibly grateful to the show and the opportunities it has given him, and it wasn’t a decision he took lightly, but after playing Mick for nearly nine years he feels it’s time to give the character of Mick a rest.
"He’s not sure how they are going to write him out yet but he’s hoping that they leave the door open for Mick."
An EastEnders source added: "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."