Claire Cooper quits Hollyoaks

Claire Cooper has announced she is quitting 'Hollyoaks' to explore other avenues in her career after starring as leather-loving Jacqui McQueen since 2006

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Claire Cooper as Jacqui McQueen

Claire Cooper as Jacqui McQueen

Claire Cooper is quitting 'Hollyoaks'.

The 31-year-old star has played outspoken Jacqui McQueen on the Channel 4 soap since 2006, and while she is "sad" to leave the show at such a "high-point", she is hanging up her thigh-high PVC boots to "explore other avenues" in her career.

She said: "I have had the most incredible and unforgettable time at Hollyoaks. Jacqui McQueen has been a fascinating part to play and I have nothing but gratitude to Channel 4 and 'Hollyoaks' for giving me the opportunity.

"I would especially like to thank Bryan Kirkwood, whom I adore and have nothing but respect and praise for. It's sad that I'm leaving when 'Hollyoaks' is at such a high-point, especially with Bryan back at the helm, but it's the right time for me personally to explore other avenues and see what other stories I can tell.

"To my family, friends, colleagues and fans, thank you for your support - it's been one hell of a ride for Miss McQueen and an inspirational one for me."

Claire's final appearance as Jacqui will be shown on screen in April, and executive producer Bryan Kirkwood is "devastated" about losing the brunette beauty and her alter-ego.

He explained: "Claire Cooper has created an unforgettable soap character in the indomitable Jacqui McQueen. I feel very protective and proud of Claire's wonderful, tough, sexy, funny creation and she has struck a perfect balance of portraying Jacqui's 'hard as nails' exterior, as well as her crushing vulnerability.

"I'm devastated to be losing Jacqui, but after six years of her wearing those thigh-high PVC boots, I respect Claire's need to explore other roles. I wish her the best of luck - not that she'll need it."

Claire's announcement comes shortly after the arrival of Jacqui's former cell-mate, Trudy Ryan (Danniella Westbrook), with whom she shares a dark secret, which has sparked speculation the ex-convict could be behind her exit from the village.

Since arriving in Hollyoaks, Jacqui has been raped by her friend Gilly Roach (Anthony Quinlan), held hostage in an abandoned church by her half-brother and she recently lost her husband Rhys Ashworth (Andrew Moss) in a tragic bus crash.

Earlier this year, Claire's off-screen boyfriend and co-star Emmett Scanlan - who plays Brendan Brady - announced he is quitting the soap. His exit will be screened next month.

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