Jenna Russell leaving EastEnders as Michelle Fowler written out
The actress took over the role of Michelle Fowler from Susan Tully after the character had a 21-year absence.
Jenna Russell will depart EastEnders as her character Michelle Fowler is being written out, just over a year after she joined the soap.
Russell first appeared in the BBC One programme in December 2016, taking over the role of Michelle from Susan Tully, who originally played the Walford regular from 1985 until 1995.
An EastEnders spokeswoman said: “Jenna is a terrific actress who has loved her time on the show playing Michelle and it was a mutual decision to write the character out.
“We wish Jenna all the best for the future.”
Hitting back at speculation she was axed from the soap, Russell tweeted: “Just for clarity, I wasn’t ‘axed’ just fancied doing something else. Nothing else. Have a great day x #actorslife.”
Viewers have been divided over Russell’s stint as Michelle since her Albert Square debut, with many complaining about the recasting of such a high-profile figure from the show’s history.
Russell, who won an Olivier Award in 2007 for her turn in the London revival of Sunday In The Park With George, said that she was initially concerned about taking over the role of Michelle.
Just for clarity, I wasn’t “axed” just fancied doing something else. Nothing else. Have a great day x #actorslife— Jenna Russell (@jennarusselluk) March 19, 2018
After making her debut, she admitted that it was “scary” to be stepping into Tully’s shoes.
“I know the audience loved her and even though she hasn’t been on our screens for over 20 years, she is still an iconic character in the fans’ psyche,” she said.
“That scared me but sometimes it’s good to be scared. I thought ‘take a deep breath’ and I decided to jump up and go with it.
“I just have to do my own version of her and hope the audience go with it.”
Russell later said that she felt viewers were struggling to “warm” to the character again, because Michelle had been embroiled in a storyline involving an affair with her teenage former student Preston Cooper.
Another scene, which aired in April last year, saw Michelle involved in a car crash.
At the time, viewers took to Twitter to share their upset that dementia sufferer Sylvie Carter (Linda Marlowe) was killed off in a separate incident, rather than Russell’s character.