11:13 16 June 2010
Actress Carley Stenson is leaving Hollyoaks after more than a decade working on the soap.
The 27-year-old actress, who found fame playing Steph Cunningham in the Channel 4 show, hopes to pursue a career in musical theatre after leaving at the end of the year.
Stenson said: "Leaving Hollyoaks is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made.
"It has been my dream job for 10 years and I shall miss all of the fantastic friends I have made in the cast and crew.
"I am very sad to leave but I'm ready for new challenges and I'm looking forward to pursuing a career in musical theatre."
Her character became a part of the Hollyoaks Village in 2000, and has been a part of numerous major plotlines including her battle with epilepsy, her parents' marriage breakdown, the death of her husband Max on their wedding day and an attack by a deranged stalker. She has recently been diagnosed with cervical cancer after she ignored the symptoms.
Behind the scenes, Stenson also dated her co-star Ricky Whittle.
Hollyoaks series producer Paul Marquess said: "We are very proud of the cervical cancer storyline and Hollyoaks' ability to bring a sweet and humorous tone to such a tragic story.
"Viewers can look forward to the return of "Stephanie De La Dean" as Steph revisits her desire for fame and stardom in a bid to cope with her illness.
"We also hope that the message of early detection for cervical cancer reaches our young audience.
"We are obviously very sad to see Steph go - she has been a much-loved character on the show for a decade, but we wish Carley all the best for a very bright and successful career."
Details of her exit have not yet been revealed.
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