Eastenders has suffered string of bad ratings including a dip below five million earlier this month.

EastEnders executive producer Lorraine Newman has quit as the BBC1 soap's ratings woes continue.

Newman, who has been at the helm of the show for 16 months, is set to take on a new role elsewhere in the drama department.

"I am confident I am leaving the show in a stronger place and am sure Dominic will continue to build upon this, taking the show to a new level," she said.

Her departure follows a string of bad ratings including a recent slump to fewer than five million viewers.

A TV source said: "There is a feeling things need to change or there is a risk we could become the third soap [behind Coronation Street and Emmerdale].

"Lorraine chose to leave, but there are not many complaining."

But BBC insiders insisted Newman's departure was not connected to the show's performance.

Earlier in July, the programme, which recently lost out to Coronation Street for Best Soap at the British Soap Awards for the second year running, drew just 4.8 million viewers.

It was stark contrast to the 16.6 viewers notched up when Archie Mitchell's killer was revealed live on the show's 25th anniversary episode in 2010.

"All the soaps are struggling at the moment," one show insider told the Sun. "We're not worried - there are some huge storylines planned for the autumn.

"Good storylines take months to plan. We're fully expecting the soap to recover. There are always peaks and troughs."

Well-known past favourites Barbara Windsor, Michael French and Sam Womack will be making dramatic comebacks later this year.

Newman will be replaced by former EastEnders producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins.