Michelle Keegan will quit Coronation Street next year, ending her six-year stint playing popular barmaid Tina McIntyre.
The 25-year-old actress announced yesterday that she will leave behind the character who launched her acting career to pursue other roles and hopes to star in a period drama like Downton Abbey.
Michelle said: "I have had the most amazing six years at Coronation Street and it was such a difficult decision to leave, but I felt it was the right time for me to make the next step in my career.
"I will miss Tina and will always be grateful to ITV and Coronation Street for giving me such an amazing role to play for my first ever acting job."
Show producer Stuart Blackburn confirmed work will start on Tina's exit storyline in the coming weeks.
In her latest storyline Tina is carrying a surrogate child for friends Gary Windass and Izzy Armstrong.
Stuart said: "There is more than a year of drama to come for Tina McIntyre before we bid farewell to Michelle, and plans are already being made for what will be a powerful and gripping story."
The Rover's Return favourite is best known for her rocky relationship with David Platt, during which she aborted his baby.
Since making her debut in 2008, Tina has had several ill-fated relationships with characters Graeme Proctor, Jason Grimshaw, Dr Carter and Tommy Duckworth.
Off screen Michelle is dating The Only Way is Essex star Mark Wright.
The couple went public with their relationship earlier this year after they where pictured kissing in Dubai on New Year's Eve.
Friends of the actress insist she will remain in Manchester and the decision to quit Weatherfield was not related to her relationship.
Michelle, who was formerly engaged to Max George from boy band The Wanted, thanked fans on Twitter for all of their messages of support and said she is very excited about what the future holds.