EastEnders star Jenna Russell to leave Michelle Fowler role

"It was a mutual decision to write the character out," a show spokesperson told RadioTimes.com

Programme Name: EastEnders - Portraits 2017 - TX: n/a - Episode: EastEnders - Michelle Fowler (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Michelle Fowler (JENNA RUSSELL) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Kieron McCarron

Jenna Russell is to leave EastEnders after little more than a year playing the recast Michelle Fowler. The actress was brought on board over Christmas 2016, but has now agreed with show boss John Yorke that the character of Michelle should be written out.

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Said a show spokesperson today: Jenna is a terrific actress who has loved her time on the show playing Michelle and it was a mutual decision to write the character out. We wish Jenna all the best for the future.”

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

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

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