EastEnders heartthrob David Witts is to leave the BBC1 soap at Christmas.
Witts, who has played Joey Branning since summer 2012, is currently filming his exit storyline, which will air this December.
During his time in Albert Square, Joey’s most notable plot saw him embark on a relationship with cousin Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa). But Lauren’s self-destructive drinking caused Joey to end their love affair.
It is now believed that Joey’s departure will be tied to the climax of sister Alice’s (Jasmyn Banks) tumultuous relationship with Michael Moon (Steve John Shepherd) and Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks).
A spokesperson for EastEnders said today: “We can confirm that David is leaving EastEnders later this year and we wish him all the best for the future.”
Witts, who won the 2013 National Television Award for Best Newcomer, has previously spoken to RadioTimes.com about the pressures of fame. Earlier this year, the 22-year-old said:
“People might think, ‘oh you’re in EastEnders, you’re now a star’. Well, actually, it’s just a job. I’ve been in jobs before. Hopefully I’ll be in jobs after EastEnders. And that’s what I enjoy doing. I don’t want to go onto any sort of reality show as I think that’s sort of like a downward spiral.
“You do that and then you have Hello! covering your wedding and OK! Magazine covering your divorce. And then you release My Life by David Witts in your mid-20s when you haven’t done anything. I think it’s all quite ridiculous.”
Of Joey’s final scenes, an insider told the Star on Sunday: “When David first signed up to play Joey he only signed up for six months.
“He always said he didn’t want to stay for long but was persuaded to extend his original contract a couple of times. Following the departure of his on-screen sister Alice he felt the time would be right to move on. It’s going to be an emotional exit and everyone will be wondering whether he leaves alone or with someone else.”