EastEnders star Jo Joyner is leaving the soap.

The actress, who has played Tanya Branning since 2006, has said she’ll be away from the production indefinitely after previously announcing her intention to take a break from the saga.

“I love playing Tanya and being part of such a great show but she has been on quite a roller coaster over the past 7 years and I have come to realise that it’s right for her to step away from Walford for a bit longer than originally planned.” – Jo Joyner

Tanya has been at the heart of some of EastEnders‘ biggest storylines in recent years with her first notable arc seeing her discover that husband Max Branning (Jake Wood) had been having an affair with son Bradley’s girlfriend Stacey (Lacey Turner).

The affair came out on Christmas Day 2007 shortly after Stacey and Bradley had tied the knot with 14.3m viewers tuning in to see how Tanya and Bradley would react.

Other storylines featuring the character include a number of failed reunions with Max, a relationship with Max’s brother Jack (Scott Maslen), being diagnosed with cervical cancer and trying to keep her daughter Lauren on the straight and narrow. .

“I have been very fortunate to have been part of some fantastic story lines over the years and I have worked with some wonderful people during my time on the show which I will always be very grateful for but I feel that as a mother and an actress it is time for me to explore some other avenues for a while.” – Jo Joyner

Executive producer Lorraine Newman noted of Jo’s decision “From Jo’s portrayal of a cancer sufferer’s fear to dealing with her daughter’s excessive drinking, Jo has delivered high class drama time and again.”

EastEnders airs Monday and Friday at 8.00pm and Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One, with repeat screenings on BBC Three.

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