James Thornton has confirmed he is to leave ITV1 soap Emmerdale next year.
The 36-year-old, who is married to Gavin and Stacey star Joanna Page, joined the soap in July 2009 as farmer John Barton, who took over running Butler’s Farm from the Sugden family.
James said: “I have had a fantastic time playing John for the past three years, but it’s the longest I have ever played one part and the time now feels right to move on.
“I have decided to leave on a high with a big exit storyline in 2012, which I’m really excited about. I will miss all my colleagues at Emmerdale and have many very fond memories of my time in the Dales.”
Emmerdale’s series producer, Stuart Blackburn, added: “James has created a truly memorable character in John and he will be greatly missed, but his decision to leave has enabled us to play a hugely gripping and dramatic storyline which will be a highlight in Emmerdale in the coming months.”