He's been a Weatherfield resident since 2009, so it may come as a huge shock to viewers that Nick Tilsley is being written out of the soap.

Actor Ben Price – who plays Nick in the ITV show – is set to exit in an explosive storyline in early summer, and his surprise departure will be linked to the feud over Leanne's baby. As it emerges that Steve McDonald is actually the father of Nick's on-off lover's child, things will come to blows.

As it stands, soap bosses are keen to keep Nick's exit plan under wraps, and haven't hinted as to whether he will be killed off or not.

Price is said to be quitting the soap to spend more time with his family.

His last scenes will feature Michelle (Kym Marsh) as she decides to divorce Steve over his infidelities, and will take place during Super Soap Week in early summer.

Price's on-screen character Nick has been in the soap since his birth in 1981, and was played by Warren Jackson until 1996, then Adman Rickitt until 2004. Price joined the cobbles as Nick in 2009 and hasn't looked back until now.

On his decision, Price said: "Coronation Street has been the most significant part of my career and I have had a fantastic seven years here.

"The decision to leave is purely personal – I want to be able to spend more time with my family. I have been supported by a terrific cast and crew and have had the most glorious storylines and for that I am most grateful."

Price's family home is in London, where he shares a house with wife Alexandra and two children, 10-year-old Paloma and seven-year-old Max. He has been commuting to and from London and Manchester for the acting job.

Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts said: "We fully respect Ben's decision to leave Coronation Street.

"As Nick he has been at the centre of some of the biggest plots of the last seven years.

"He is valued member of cast who will be greatly missed but we still have many months of great storylines with him leading to his dramatic exit later this year."

Coronation Street continues tonight at 7.30pm on ITV.