Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher says soap exit will allow him to be doting father
Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher has said his decision to leave the soap will allow him to spend more time with his new baby.
Fletcher left the show in an hour-long episode of the ITV soap on Tuesday, 20 years after his first appearance.
The actor, who played Andy Sugden, is expecting his first child with his wife Elizabeth, who is due to give birth on Monday.
He told ITV's This Morning: "When I made the decision to leave, we had not fallen pregnant but when we did, suddenly my whole perspective on life changed and I want to be a doting father and want to make my son or daughter proud.
"I want to provide and will have more time to spend and give them the best upbringing I can.
"There are lots of new chapters for me."
Fletcher has admitted he cried while filming his final scenes for the drama and told hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford: "Twenty years is a long time and it's been an incredible 20 years. I'm so grateful to Emmerdale for what they have given me throughout that period.
"I've always had a sense of fulfilment from what started out as a hobby. Looking back on the 20 years it has been a roller-coaster , it's given me passions."
Andy's final scenes on the soap saw him bid an emotional farewell to his brother Robert (Ryan Hawley) as a fugitive on the run, leaving behind his on-off girlfriend Bernice (Samantha Giles), who decided not to go with him.
He had discovered he had been framed by Chrissie (Louise Marwood) for the murder of Lawrence White (John Bowe).
Fletcher has played the role since 1996, when h is character arrived in the soap as Andy Hopwood, but was adopted by Jack and Sarah Sugden and became a permanent part of the Sugden family.
Well-known storylines over the years have included Andy setting fire to the farm's barn, as well as a domestic abuse storyline and a plot which saw his brother Robert being shot.
Fletcher said he hopes to now take on new acting challenges, saying he has good American and Belfast accents.
He said: " The amazing thing with a soap is every day you're challenged, the amount of storylines we go through, the amount of emotions you get to play is really challenging.
"I've always had aspirations to do other things, like other cast members, to try other genres.
"I made the decision I want to leave with no discredit to the show. If anything it was the creativity and confidence they gave me to believe I could do other things."
Asked if there was any conversation about him returning later, he said: " You never know with a long-running show but that's for them to decide, I made the decision to go and explore other opportunities, there is so much great TV."