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Claire Cooper has announced she is leaving Hollyoaks after seven years playing Jacqui McQueen.

The 33-year-old actress’ final scenes as the tough girl with a penchant for PVC will air on the Channel 4 soap in April.

Claire said: “I have had the most incredible and unforgettable time. Jacqui McQueen has been a fascinating part to play and I have nothing but gratitude to Channel 4 and Hollyoaks for giving me the opportunity.

“I would especially like to thank [producer] Bryan Kirkwood, who I adore and have nothing but respect and praise for. It’s sad that I’m leaving when Hollyoaks is at such a high-point, especially with Bryan back at the helm, but it’s the right time for me personally to explore other avenues and see what other stories I can tell.

“To my family, friends, colleagues and fans, thank you for your support – it’s been one hell of a ride for Miss McQueen and an inspirational one for me.”

Ex-con Jacqui’s departure comes shortly after the arrival of her former cell-mate, Trudy Ryan (Danniella Westbrook) with whom she shares a dark secret.

Bryan added: “I’m devastated to be losing Jacqui, but after [seven] years of her wearing those thigh-high PVC boots, I respect Claire’s need to explore other roles. I wish her the best of luck – not that she’ll need it.”

Claire dated co-star Emmett Scanlan who filmed his final scenes as Brendan Brady last month.