EASTENDERS' Danny Dyer has quit the soap after being poached by Sky.
The 44-year-old actor, who plays Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter, is thought to have signed for a rival drama in a six-figure deal.
While that is significantly less than he earns at the BBC, he would be free to pursue opportunities outside the Corporation that could see his income rocket.
The news would leave the popular soap with huge shoes to fill.
An EastEnders spokesperson said tonight: “Danny will be leaving EastEnders when his contract comes to an end later this year.
"Danny has made Mick Carter an iconic character which we shall always be grateful for.
"However we won’t be saying goodbye just yet as there’s still quite some time – and plenty of explosive drama for Mick – to come before he departs Walford."
A friend of Danny’s said “Danny loves EastEnders but as an actor he feels the time is right to explore other roles.
"He’s incredibly grateful to the show and the opportunities it has given him and it wasn’t a decision he took lightly but after playing Mick for nearly nine years he feels it’s time to give the character of Mick a rest.
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"He’s not sure how they are going to write him out yet but he’s hoping that they leave the door open for Mick.”
A EastEnders source added “Danny made the decision quite some time ago that he would leave the show this year which has given bosses plenty of time to plan a huge storyline for him.
"With Kellie [Bright] set to return very soon, the Carters are going to be at the heart of some big drama this year.”
Danny has previously taken breaks from playing Mick to pursue other interests but always returned to the role he has held since 2013.
In 2019 he took a six-week break to appear in a series of plays paying tribute to his mentor Harold Pinter alongside Martin Freeman.
Danny is tied to a gruelling soap schedule but has taken work away from the show recently, hosting a Spotify podcast – Sorted With The Dyers.
He presents the show, where he helps solve listeners' problems, with Love Island star daughter Dani, who he has also appeared on EastEnders with.
The star has also hosted gameshow The Wall since 2019 – a move which took his BBC salary from £400,000 to a reported £1million.
The star has also appeared on the likes of Who Do You Think You Are? where he discovered he was related – albeit very distantly – to King Edward III.
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