Emmerdale stalwart Deena Payne is saying goodbye to her character Viv Hope as she prepares to leave in what is promised to be a ‘huge winter storyline’.

The actress, who will be leaving screens within the next few months, said: “Emmerdale has been such a gift to me for the past 18 years and I’ve taken every challenge with both hands and enjoyed the ride.

Deena continued: “I’m very proud of Viv and the impact she has had over the years. I will miss putting on her shoulder pads and high heels every morning, but I am very excited about what the future holds.”

Emmerdale’s series producer Gavin Blyth added: “Deena created one of Emmerdale’s most iconic characters in Viv. She’s been a fundamental part of the show over the years and a valued member of the cast for which we are very grateful.

“We do not take decisions about losing characters lightly, but it is also the nature of soap that characters must come and go from village life. Deena’s exit will be both unmissable and moving.”

Deena took a year’s break from the show in 2008, when her character was languishing in jail.

Viv has since split from husband Bob (Tony Audenshaw) following his one-night stand with Gennie Walker (Sian Reese-Williams).

Click here to watch whatsontv.co.uk’s weekly soaps video preview, the Soap Scoop