Gillian Wright quits EastEnders

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Gillian Wright as Jean Slater

Gillian Wright as Jean Slater

Gillian Wright has quit her role of Jean Slater in 'EastEnders' after portraying the character for eight years.

Gillian Wright has quit 'EastEnders'.

The 53-year-old star is leaving her role of troubled Jean Slater after eight years on the BBC One soap to pursue other work, but she has asked show bosses not to kill off her character and hopes to return to Albert Square one day.

She said: "It has been a huge privilege to play Jean Slater these last eight years.

"I treasure the viewers' care and love for the character -- not only through her hard times but through all the laughter too.

"I will miss 'EastEnders' enormously but it is time for me to step back and enjoy other acting challenges.

"I would love Jean to return to the Square one day, so let's hope this is not goodbye but au revoir!"

Gillian will film her final scenes in the soap this week, which will see her character bow out in dramatic fashion when struggles to decide whether to tell her new love interest Ollie - who is portrayed by the former 'Bill' actor Tony O'Callaghan - about her bipolar disorder.

A source told The Sun newspaper: "Jean Slater has had some good storylines but Gillian wants to move on.

"She told bosses several months ago that she was ready to leave, so they have been preparing the groundwork for her departure by developing the storyline with Ollie.

"The pair become close but Jean has been hiding her bipolar disorder as she is worried about the impact it will have on their relationship.

"She's really fallen for him but is paranoid that he won't want anything to do with her if she tells him the truth."

Gillian previously quit the soap in 2010 along with Lacey Turner - who played her on-screen daughter Stacey Slater - but she returned to Walford in March 2011.

The star's latest announcement comes just one day after Lorraine Newman quit as EastEnders' Executive Producer.

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