Samantha Womack
Eastenders star Samantha Womack has played Ronnie Mitchell since 2007, but will leave Albert Square for good next year. Stuart C Wilson / Getty

EastEnders star Samantha Womack has quit the BBC soap opera after almost a decade of playing Ronnie Mitchell. The actress first appeared in Albert Square as part of the famous Mitchell family in 2007, but will leave the BBC soap for good next year. The 43-year-old actress was offered an amazing exit story line from the show's new boss, Sean O'Connor, reports The Mirror.

A BBC insider also told The Sun: "It was felt that with everything Ronnie has been through over the past nine years, it is now time to rest the character. She [Womack] already has a few projects lined up so she won't be off screen for long."

A spokesperson for EastEnders also confirmed the news, to The Sun, adding: "Samantha was recently offered a big storyline which she happily accepted that leads to Ronnie departing Walford.

"We wish Samantha all the best for the future."

This isn't the first time that Womack has quit the show. In July 2011, the actress left the show after viewers verbally attacked her during a controversial baby-swap story line. Earlier this year, the BBC star told the Daily Mail: "I did struggle with the way those two storylines, the death of a baby and the abduction, were mixed together. I thought one of those would have been enough.

"I was at the end of a four-year period of tragedy and I was bored of crying; I'd been crying for years. Every day I'd read a new scene and see it was her breaking down and all I could think was the audience must be bored stiff of seeing me cry."

Womack then returned to the show in 2013. She explained: "I had this paranoia that people would be annoyed with the fact that I was producing the same performance over and over again. It felt like the tragedy had got so far-fetched that it was time to give her a breather.

"On top of that I was really genuinely tired; all that screaming and crying and shouting for 12 hours a day can take it out of you. I'd drive home at night and I'd be just knackered."