Actor Danny Dyer will leave EastEnders later this year, the BBC has confirmed.
Dyer, who plays Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter, is not quitting immediately, with the BBC promising "plenty of explosive drama" before he goes.
EastEnders said Dyer, who joined the show in 2013, had made Mick Carter into "an iconic character" who they would "always be grateful for".
"Danny will be leaving EastEnders when his contract comes to an end later this year," it said in a statement.
"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."
Dyer's character Mick has become popular with viewers since he was introduced nine years ago.
Mick has remained behind the bar at the Queen Victoria pub ever since and has married Linda Carter, played by Kellie Bright.
An EastEnders source said: "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."
The source added Dyer's character would be "at the heart of some big drama" with the return of his on-screen wife this year.
Dyer, 44, won three National Television Awards for serial drama performance for playing the role.
A spokeswoman for the soap said Dyer had not been blocked from other projects, following reports in the Mirror newspaper.
Before joining EastEnders, Dyer was best known for appearing in British films like Mean Machine and The Football Factory.
He also fronted his own TV series – Danny Dyer's Deadliest Men.
In 2017, he appeared in an episode of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?, in which he found out he was related to royalty.
Dyer discovered that he is descended from William the Conqueror, Edward III and Thomas Cromwell.
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