EastEnders star Jo Joyner has announced that she is taking an ‘indefinite’ break from the soap.

The actress, who plays Tanya Cross in the show, had previously said she would be taking eight months off but has now said she will be extending this, in order to explore other career options and spend more time with her family.

‘I love playing Tanya and being part of such a great show,” Jo said in a statement.

“But she has been on quite a rollercoaster over the past seven years and I have come to realise that it’s right for her to step away from Walford for a bit longer than originally planned.”

She added: “I have been very fortunate to have been part of some fantastic storylines over the years, and I have worked with some wonderful people during my time on the show which I will always be very grateful for, but I feel that as a mother and an actress it is time for me to explore some other avenues for a while.”

During her time on the show Jo has been involved in some dramatic storylines which have seen her divorce husband Max Branning (Jake Wood), battle cervical cancer and cope with daughter Lauren’s binge drinking.

More recently viewers saw her plans to remarry Max go awry after learning he had secretly tied the knot while they had been apart.

From Jo’s portrayal of a cancer sufferer’s fear to dealing with her daughter’s excessive drinking, Jo has delivered high-class drama time and again,” said EastEnders’ executive producer Lorraine Newman.

“Later this year we will see the Branning family cope without her. They will of course miss her, as will her colleagues and no doubt the viewers. We wish Jo well on her ventures new.’