Emmerdale spoilers: Sammy Winward's exit has been planned since spring, says show boss Kate Oates
Katie's final episodes will be "a big part of the top of next year", adds the series producer
Emmerdale boss Kate Oates has scotched press rumours that actress Sammy Winward shocked the production team by announcing her exit straight after filming pivotal Christmas scenes.
"I was reading the stories at the weekend, which said that I was surprised she was going," said the series producer. "I'm not sure how people think we storyline this show! Sammy came to see me in the spring and told me what she was thinking about. So we've had time to craft that story and I'm really excited about it."
News of Winward's upcoming departure after 13 years on Emmerdale broke last Friday, with a statement released by ITV promising a "sensational" leaving plot for Katie:
"Sammy Winward will leave Emmerdale in 2015 after playing Katie Addyman for 13 years Her decision to pursue other acting opportunities gives the writing team the opportunity to create a sensational, not-to-be missed storyline for her exit. Stay tuned for more information on what's to come for Katie Addyman…"
Speaking a press event held yesterday in London, Oates refused to confirm or deny rumours that Katie would be killed off. "I'm not going to tell you whether she lives or dies or goes off on a palomino pony! But we're very excited about the story, so that will be a big part of the top of next year."
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week's episodes of Emmerdale below: