Thornton set to leave Emmerdale
Emmerdale's James Thornton will be hanging up his overalls, after confirming he will be leaving the soap next year.
The 36-year-old, who is married to Gavin And Stacey star Joanna Page, joined the ITV1 series in July 2009 as John Barton as part of a new farming dynasty, who took over running Butler's Farm from the Sugden family.
James 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. I will miss all my colleagues at Emmerdale and have many very fond memories of my time in the Dales."
Emmerdale's series producer Stuart Blackburn 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."
James' alter-ego John, who has had his heart broken after discovering his beloved wife Moira's (Natalie J Robb) affair with rival Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley), is set to be a key suspect in the forthcoming Judgment Day episodes when Cain is left fighting for his life, following a brutal attack on December 8.
The gripping whodunnit storyline will leave viewers guessing the attacker's identity until the New Year.