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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 08:48 GMT
EastEnder Jamie to quit Square
Jack Ryder
Jack Ryder: Leaving after "four fantastic years"
Jack Ryder, who plays Jamie Mitchell in the hit BBC One soap EastEnders, has announced he is leaving the show after four years.

Ryder will leave when his contract expires, in November, to pursue new ambitions, he said in a statement.

The 20-year-old said it was a tough decision to make, but he wanted to try other roles.

His statement came ahead of fellow EastEnder Martin Kemp's final performance as the shady Steve Owen, the character he has played since 1998.

"I have decided to leave EastEnders after four fantastic years to pursue other projects," Ryder said.

EastEnders gave me the best opportunity a young actor could have dreamed of

Jack Ryder

"It has not been an easy decision but I felt it was time for me to build on the experience the show has given me and play other parts.

"EastEnders gave me the best opportunity a young actor could have dreamed of, and I will always be grateful to them for that."

The soap's executive producer, John Yorke, said Ryder would feature in episodes until February 2003.

"Jack has made a big contribution to EastEnders, playing the much loved Jamie Mitchell," he said.

"We will be very sad to see him go, but we wish him all the best for his future."

The Queen Vic
The Queen Vic: Focal point

A BBC spokesman said it was too early to speculate about the plot surrounding Jamie Mitchell's departure.

Ryder's is the latest high-profile departure from the soap.

Michael Greco, who plays Beppe di Marco, is to leave Albert Square this summer, the BBC announced earlier this month.

BBC One said the popular character, who has been in the ratings-topping show since January 1998, had "run its course".

Martin Kemp and screen wife Tamzin Outhwaite announced their departures last year.

Kemp, a former member of the 1980s band Spandau Ballet, quit the show to take up an exclusive, two-year contract with ITV.

During his time in EastEnders, Kemp's character killed his former girlfriend, developed a drug habit and orchestrated a number of dodgy business deals.

See also:

12 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
EastEnder Beppe moving on
28 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
BBC on top in ratings war
26 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders' Kemp joins ITV
29 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Ricky and Bianca film soap return
02 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders triumph at soap awards
28 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Queen tours UK broadcasters
29 Oct 01 | England
Dog lands EastEnders role
05 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnder Tamzin bows out
04 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders sees helpline calls rocket
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