Emmerdale spoilers: Jason Merrells quits Declan Macey role

"This job is full-on, so every week I'm 200 miles away from my family and my home, and after a while you think, 'as much as I love the work, I don't want this forever'"

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Actor Jason Merrells has revealed that he is leaving Emmerdale after four years playing ruthless businessman Declan Macey.

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Speaking today, Merrells explained that he was leaving the ITV soap because he’d been spending too much time away from his family: “It was never going to be a job for life and I’ve stayed way longer than I thought I would. I’ve really enjoyed it, but those problems are still there – the travel and living away from home. This job is full-on, so every week I’m 200 miles away from my family and my home, and after a while you think, ‘as much as I love the work, I don’t want this forever.'”

This past week, the character of Declan has been involved in an explosive plotline that has seen him plot the demise of wife Charity (Emma Atkins), only for the tables to be turned during last Thursday’s episode. Viewers saw Declan sink into the watery depths after a lakeside stand-off with Charity ended with him being struck on the head.

But despite Declan’s body having not yet been recovered, it appears that Merrells has always known that he wouldn’t become a permanent fixture in the Dales. In an interview with the Daily Star, he added: “Being in Emmerdale is not something that I could have done for ever and I’ve always known that.

“I’ve stayed longer because it’s been great fun to play this character. Emma Atkins is great to work with and the show has been so good over the last two years. Apart from the travel I’ve loved every second, but there’s always been an end in my mind.”

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Emmedale continues tonight on ITV at 7pm