After almost a decade playing EastEnders' Ronnie Mitchell Samantha Womack is leaving Albert Square in the soap's biggest exit ever

Since she first showed up on Albert Square in 2007 Ronnie Mitchell has become one of EastEnders’ best-loved characters. But, after almost a decade on the BBC1 soap, actress Samantha Womack, who plays Ronnie, has decided to leave Walford.

Samantha apparently “jumped at the chance” to be part of an explosive story that will see her character Ronnie depart the square early next year. The 43-year-old was offered the dramatic exit plot by EastEnders’ boss Sean O’Connor.

An EastEnders spokesman said: “We can confirm that Samantha Womack will be leaving EastEnders.

“Samantha has created an iconic character in Ronnie Mitchell, having superbly played out many of EastEnders’ biggest moments.

“However, Samantha was recently offered a big storyline which she happily accepted that leads to Ronnie departing Walford.

“We wish Samantha all the best for the future.”

Ronnie’s exit is sure to be something pretty spectacular. During her nine years on the soap Ronnie has been involved in some of the show’s biggest storylines, including murder, cot death and a baby swap story.

Recently, Ronnie has been the victim of stalker Andy Flynn (Jack Derges), who blamed the Mitchell for the death of his adopted sister, and Ronnie’s daughter, Danielle.

Samantha Womack, Ronnie and Andy, EastEnders

Ronnie meets her stalker, Andy

A soap insider told The Sun: “It was felt that with everything Ronnie has been through over the past nine years it is now time to rest the character.

“The writers are working on an extremely exciting story for Ronnie, and when Sean presented the idea to Sam she jumped at the opportunity to do it.

“Sam already has a few projects lined up so she won’t be off screen for long!”

The actress took to Twitter to confirm she will be leaving EastEnders and thank her fans.

EastEnders, BBC1