EastEnders star, Steve John Shepherd, is reportedly leaving the hit BBC soap.
Shepherd, who plays Michael Moon in EastEnders, is reportedly leaving the show June, although his final scenes are not be shown until later this year, the Sun newspaper reports.
The actor, whose character Michael is currently involved in financial difficulty situation in the show, explained to the newspaper:
“After two years of playing Michael, I feel now is the time to move on.
“I have relished every minute of exploring his character. The good and the bad.”
Shepherd has been a Walford regular in the award-winning BBC since he joined back in 2010 as the cousin of Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) the landlord of the iconic Queen Victoria public house in Albert Square.
Shortly after Michael Moon was introduced to the show it was revealed that he was in fact the real father of Alfie’s son Tommy, with wife Kat (Jessie Wallace).
His character was then involved in a storyline involving his father Eddie (David Essex) and two half-brothers Tyler Moon (Tony Discipline) and Anthony Moon (Matt Lapinskas) regarding the death of his mother, and a bitter plot for revenge to teach Eddie, who he held responsible, a lesson.
The storyline ended up seeing his younger brother, Tyler, fighting for his life after being set up by Michael in a fixed boxing match, whilst his brother Anthony lost all the family’s savings betting against him, after being advised to do so by Michael.
Michael Moon is currently a single father to his young daughter Scarlett after his wife, Janine (Charlie Brooks) fled the Square shortly after the child’s birth last year leaving my cause high and dry, and holding the baby.
Speaking to the newspaper about his decision to leave, Shepherd commented: “I feel extremely privileged to have had this amazing experience and I want to thank everybody at EastEnders for their extraordinary support.
“After two years of playing Michael, I feel now is the time to move on. I have relished every minute of exploring his character. The good and the bad.
“Most importantly I would like to thank the fans for taking him and his numerous flaws into their hearts. I wish them all the very best.”
Meanwhile EastEnders Executive Producer, Lorraine Newman, has also released a statement in which she said: “Steve John Shepherd’s wonderful, enigmatic portrayal of Michael Moon has captivated the audience for the past two and a half years.
“Michael Moon will remain on our screens until much later this year and I am sure the audience will enjoy the suitably dramatic end we have planned for the character.
“With Janine’s return on screen this month, there’s sure to be plenty of fireworks to come.”
Watch an interview with Steve John Shepherd in the clip below: