EastEnders actress Pam St Clement is leaving Albert Square after a quarter of a century playing slap-happy Pat Evans (formerly Butcher).
The 69-year-old actress joined the soap in 1986, a year after it launched, initially drafted in for just three episodes to inject some grittiness into a show the producers believed was going soft.
But she soon returned, her long and colourful stint on Albert Square taking in prostitution, paternity suits, insurance scams, a couple of marriages and countless flings.
St Clement said: “I have enjoyed 25-and-a-half wonderful years in EastEnders creating the character of Pat but feel it’s time to hang up her earrings.
“Leaving the EastEnders family will be akin to a bereavement. But I’m looking forward to the other work and life opportunities that I will have the time to pursue.”
When she leaves at the end of the year, St Clement will be the second longest-serving member of the EastEnders cast, after Adam Woodyatt, aka Ian Beale.
Barbara Windsor, who left her role as Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell last year, praised St Clement’s portrayal of Pat: “Pam St Clement created a truly iconic character in Pat. I was privileged enough to be a part of her journey as Peggy and Pat fought, laughed and cried together.
“Pam will be greatly missed by the company and the viewers. I personally adore Pam and I can’t wait to start having all those lunches we promised each other.”
Patsy Palmer, who plays Pat’s granddaughter, Bianca, in the soap, said: “Pam St Clement is the most professional person I have ever worked with. She is an amazing actress who never fails to make me cry when we do scenes together.
“She will be missed by everyone at EastEnders but I feel really privileged that I have had this wonderful lady playing my nan for many years.”
The BBC have so far refused to comment on how Pat will depart EastEnders, leaving fans to speculate about what could live up to the drama and emotion of her 25 years on the show.
What do you think would be a fitting exit for Pat? And what are your favourite memories of the character? Post a comment below and let us know.