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Last Updated: Friday, 28 March, 2003, 11:51 GMT
EastEnders couple split
Lisa Shaw and Phil Mitchell
The couple had been together for three years

EastEnders stars Steve McFadden and Lucy Benjamin have split up after three years together, their agents have confirmed.

The split comes as the two actors take part in a dramatic storyline in the soap, which will turn out to be Benjamin's farewell from the series.

In the series, Benjamin's character Lisa Shaw has gone missing, and Phil Mitchell (McFadden) is suspected of killing her.

On Thursday night, 13.8 million people watched a dramatic clifftop confrontation between them in a flashback scene, according to unofficial overnight figures.

The couple's agents, CAM, said in a statement: "Our clients Steve McFadden and Lucy Benjamin have separated. It is a completely amicable split with no other party involved.

"They are and will remain good friends and ask you to respect their privacy."

'Stormy'

A spokesman told BBC News Online that neither McFadden, 43, nor Benjamin, 32, would be commenting on their split.

The pair's high-profile relationship was said to have been stormy, with occasional public rows reported by the press.

But in recent months they appeared to have settled, with Benjamin talking about her relationship on BBC One's Friday Night With Jonathan Ross last week.

Last month McFadden was quoted in The Sun newspaper as saying he had bought a diamond ring for Benjamin, who rose to fame in childrens' TV drama Press Gang.

Benjamin's character was written out last year, although she has returned for this week's special series of episodes.

McFadden is also planning to take a year out from the soap in the autumn to work on "other projects", although the manner of Phil Mitchell's disappearance is being kept a closely-guarded secret.

  • Actor Hywel Bennett is to join EastEnders.

    . Bennett, who starred in ITV's Shelley for many years, will be "central to a key storyline through the summer", according to a spokeswoman.

    He will play Jack Dalton, a feared gangland boss who oversees the East End of London.






  • SEE ALSO:
    Phil to quit EastEnders
    08 Feb 03  |  TV and Radio
    EastEnders star 'fine' after fall
    30 Aug 02  |  TV and Radio
    Benjamin returns to EastEnders
    10 Jan 03  |  TV and Radio
    From Phil Mitchell to fireman
    11 Apr 01  |  TV and Radio


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