EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra is the latest member of the soap’s cast to bow out, after nearly a full decade on the show.
The 49-year-old actor, who plays Masood, will leave the soap before the year is out – although the door will be left open for him to return.
“When I trained as an actor, I set out to play many different characters and never did I know that I would be so fortunate to have found a character that I have loved playing for nine years,” he told Radio Times.
“However, after thinking long and hard, I have decided that it is time to get back out there and take on some other roles.
“I will of course miss everyone at EastEnders – I have had a brilliant time there, and who knows, one day Masood may be back.”
An EastEnders spokesperson added: “We can confirm that Nitin will be leaving EastEnders. Nitin has been a wonderful addition to the cast for the past nine years and we wish him all the best for the future.”
The news comes hot on the heels of the bombshells that Samantha Womack (Ronnie), Rita Simons (Roxie), Danny-Boy Hatchard (Lee), Roger Sloman (Les) and Linn Blakely (Pam) are also exit-bound.
Masood’s huge story lines over the years have included his fiery marriage to Zainab, and their struggle to come to terms with son Syed’s homosexuality.
More recently, he’s had a blossoming romance with Carmel Kazemi (Bonnie Langford) – which will presumably have to come to an end when he leaves Albert Square.
Nitin won Best Onscreen Partnership with Nina Wadia, who played Zainab, at the 2009 British Soap Awards, and was nominated for Best Actor at the same ceremony in 2010.
His previous credits included Prince Pondicherry in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the films Bride And Prejudice and Mumbai Calling.