EastEnders airs Michelle Fowler’s exit as actress Jenna Russell leaves the cast

Michelle departed amid fears she'd always be tainted by past sins

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Michelle Fowler has made her exit from EastEnders after deciding that her future lay away from Albert Square. Tonight’s episode of the BBC1 soap saw her say goodbye to best mate Sharon, telling her that she was going back to America to see kids Mark and Vicki before heading off travelling.

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The catalyst for Michelle’s departure came when she was falsely accused of seducing Hunter Owen during a tutoring appointment. Despite the claims being ultimately disproved, Michelle realised that – should she stay in Walford – she’d be forever tainted by her 2017 affair with student Preston Cooper.

Scenes just shown then saw Michelle get the classic black-cab EastEnders exit treatment as she bid a misty-eyed farewell to the neighbourhood.

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The moment marked the end of actress Jenna Russell’s stint playing the recast Michelle. The star was brought on board over Christmas 2016 but recently agreed with show boss John Yorke that the character should be written out.

The recasting of Michelle had been met with scepticism by both fans and critics alike, while plotlines such as the aforementioned affair with Preston and a car crash into the local chip shop also proved unpopular.

At the time of Michelle’s reintroduction by former executive producer Sean O’Connor, the character had been absent for two decades – original actress Susan Tully having left EastEnders in 1995.

Speaking back in April 2017, Russell herself admitted that she faced a tough job when it came to winning over viewers: “I think it’s hard for Michelle to get the audience’s sympathy at this point. I realised, once I’d joined the cast officially, that my first big storyline is not something you necessarily side with her on.”

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s drama on EastEnders below. Beneath that, there’s our Week in Walford review show

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And visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.