10:50 29 April 2010
Lacey Turner has announced that she is quitting her role as troubled Stacey Branning on the BBC's soap EastEnders.
The broadcaster confirmed that the actress will depart after more than five years in the soap, to pursue a film career.
The actress, who was outed as Archie Mitchell's killer in a climatic live episode in February, will most likely not be killed off after bosses stated that the door would be left open for her return if the time comes.
Gillian Wright, who plays Stacey's mother Jean, is also leaving later in the year.
Turner, 22, said: "I've had the most fantastic time at EastEnders. Stacey has been such a brilliant role for me to play, as has being part of the feisty Slater family.
"I'm so lucky to have had such challenging storylines, from the affair with Max and being diagnosed with bipolar to the complete shock of being revealed as Archie's killer during the live 25th anniversary episode.
"I'll miss Stacey and everyone in Albert Square very much but the time has come to try something different."
Stacey arrived in Walford in 2004, taking over the local market and becoming involved in some of the show's most dramatic storylines.
Turner has received numerous accolades for her performance, including four consecutive wins for Best Actress at the Inside Soap Awards.
Turner's agent, Sharon Harris, said the actress decided last year to renew her contract with the soap once more before leaving.
Harris stated: "We had lots of inquiries while doing EastEnders, asking if she was available, and we had to say she wasn't.
"She was contracted to the BBC with huge storylines and wasn't able to accept or consider other roles because she just adored everything about EastEnders and the character of Stacey, but she does feel as an actress she has exhausted everything possible with that particular character."
EastEnders executive producer Bryan Kirkwood said: "We'll be very sad to see Lacey Turner leave the show.
"Lacey is one of the best young actresses on TV at the moment and the fact that she's won 28 awards in the last five years is testament to this.
"It's only right that someone as talented and versatile as Lacey should pursue new challenges and we wish her the very best of luck.
"In the meantime, viewers can look forward to a typically dramatic Slater family exit when she leaves and the door will be left open for Stacey Branning to return to Albert Square in the future."
In recent months a number of EastEnders cast members have been reported as being axed or voluntarily leaving in a shake-up of the BBC show.
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