Veteran star Freddie Jones is to bow out of Emmerdale after 12 years in the role of Sandy Thomas.
Jones, 90, first appeared on the ITV soap in November 2005, but his final scenes will be shown next week.
Speaking in the latest issue of Radio Times, Jones – whose previous screen credits include the likes of The Elephant Man, Dune and Wild at Heart – said of his decision to leave Emmerdale:
“It’s about the balance of my life. The company generously offered me another 12 months. But I just thought, ‘I have no idea what I’m going to do in another bloody year!’ The drama that Ashley’s death [Jones’s screen son, played by John Middleton] gave me last year was monumental. But that’s gone now.
“I travel three hours by car, book into a hotel and then get up the next day to say maybe three sentences. And then do a three-hour journey back. I can’t justify staying, even though Emmerdale was very generous in asking me to.”
Sandy’s most notable storylines saw him become the victim of elder abuse meted out by vicar son Ashley and suffer heartbreak in the wake of friend Edna Birch’s death.
Last year, Sandy also had to come to term with Ashley’s decline and eventual demise following a diagnosis of early onset vascular dementia.
Commenting on his own overriding memory of Emmerdale, Jones said: “A feeling of friendship. And overwhelming love from every quarter – props, lighting, make-up…nobody could have been kinder. My life will easily be more impoverished.”
Read the full interview with Freddie Jones in the latest issue of Radio Times (out today)
And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.