Natalie Anderson, one of Emmerdale’s best actresses, has announced she is leaving the soap later this year.

Her character, Alicia, has been at the centre of some of the most dramatic and heartbreaking stories in recent years and we are just seeing Alicia and husband David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden) preparing for what we thought was going to be a fresh, happy new start for them and son Jacob in Portugal.

But now it’s not sounding so happy… for the Metcalfes or for viewers.

“I’ve had the most incredible five years at Emmerdale and made some wonderful friends,” says Natalie, in a statement released by Emmerdale today. “I’m so grateful to the writers, directors, producers and everyone I’ve worked with.

“This year has been such a highlight and so amazing that I felt now was the right time to say bye to Alicia and see what the future holds.”

As news of her departure broke, Natalie tweeted: “I will be v sad to say goodbye to both her and Emmerdale”.

Alicia’s five years in the village have been full of happiness heartbreak… Fighting her sister Leyla (Roxy Shahidi) for Jacob – the boy she raised as hers but Leyla gave birth to… Being jailed for assault after giving Val (Charlie Hardwick) a slap… Nearly losing David to Priya (Fiona Wade), only for him to realise Alicia’s the woman he loves after she was shot by Cameron (Dominic Power)… And, this year, being sexually abused by Lachlan then called a paedophile by his mother, Chrissie (Louise Marwood), after Lachlan said Alicia wanted him.

It looked like the Metcalfes were getting their lives back on track after Lachlan finally admitted he had lied and was totally to blame.

Alicia, David and Jacob are packing up and moving to Portugal to run a bar owned by Val’s son Paul (Mathew Bose).

But we’ve seen that David’s not as keen to go as Alicia, as he’ll have to leave his baby Amba behind with Priya.

Now we know Alicia’s going to be going for good, what does this mean for David and Jacob?

Will David’s love for Amba bring him back to Emmerdale without Alicia and Jacob?

Or does David never leave Emmerdale?

Emmerdale continues on ITV, Monday, May 25, 7.00pm.