Which of course immediately makes me wonder if that means John’s going to prison for the attack on Cain Dingle!
On the show’s official website, James, who is married to Gavin and Stacey star Joanna Page, said, “I have had a fantastic time playing John for the past three years…
“But it’s the longest I have ever played one part and the time now feels right to move on.
“I have decided to leave on a high with a big exit storyline in 2012, which I’m really excited about.”
James, who’s also starred in Holby Blue and the BBC’s adaptation of David Copperfield – which is where he met Joanna, who also starred in the drama – added, “I will miss all my colleagues at Emmerdale and have many very fond memories of my time in the Dales…”
Stuart Blackburn, the show’s producer, added, “James has created a truly memorable character in John and he will be greatly missed.
“But his decision to leave has enabled us to play a hugely gripping and dramatic storyline which will be a highlight in Emmerdale in the coming months.”
Since the Bartons arrived in Emmerdale in 2009 – taking over the farm from Andy Sugden – they’ve had a number of high profile storylines, including their daughter Holly’s (Sophie Powles) drug addiction and of course most recently, Moira Barton’s (Natalie J Robb) affair with Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley).
The family have also been involved in a feud with Declan Macey (Jason Merrells) that began earlier this year when son Adam Barton (Adam Thomas) had an affair with Declan’s wife Ella (Corrinne Wicks).
There’s of course no news on how James will be written out yet, but surely prison’s a good option?