Belfast Telegraph

Kellie Bright leaving EastEnders on maternity leave

Actress Kellie Bright who plays matriarch Linda is exiting the show and her onscreen husband's great-aunt Babe Smith is being written out of the soap.

EastEnders actress Kellie Bright will be absent from the BBC soap for six months due to maternity leave.

The 40-year-old, who plays publican Linda Carter in the Albert Square based show, announced she and actor husband Paul Stocker, 45, were expecting their second child in May (16).

Now the star, whose due date is in November (16), has revealed she will take a break from the show after giving birth in order to spend time with her baby. She will return as Linda at some point next year (17).

"I'll be on maternity leave for six months," she tells Britain's Inside Soap magazine. "EastEnders were really flexible and left it entirely up to me. I didn't want to be away forever but I also wanted enough time at home to enjoy my new baby."

Announcing she was expecting earlier this year (16), the actress wrote on Twitter, "Shhh... Don't tell anyone, but I'm pregnant! My hubby and I are over the moon & looking forward 2 meeting our little person in Nov #Mama@40 (sic)."

Kellie and her husband Paul are already parents to a five-year-old son Freddy.

After hearing the happy news Danny Dyer, who plays Kellie's onscreen husband Mick Carter, joked that in her absence his character would have an affair with one of Albert Square's most elderly residents, Dot Cotton, played by 89-year-old actress June Brown.

"While you're gone I'm assuming an affair with Dot is on the cards. ;) #Mick4Dot (sic)," Danny wrote on Twitter.

Dot is such a popular character that EastEnders fans have been in uproar this week (beg26Sep16) after it was revealed she faced the sack from her job at Walford's launderette. The character has worked there since the show's first episode aired in 1985.

As well as Kellie's temporary departure the Carter family will also be losing another member as Mick's villainous great-aunt Babe Smith, played by Annette Badland, is being written out of the show.

EastEnders producers have however left the door open for Babe to return, with a spokesperson saying Babe may come back to cause "aggro" for the Carters.

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