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Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK


Absolom quits EastEnders

In the dock: The trial of Matthew Rose was watched by millions

EastEnders actor Joe Absolom has announced his decision to leave the BBC TV soap.

The 20-year-old actor, who plays the unjustly jailed Matthew Rose in the thrice-weekly drama, says he is leaving to pursue other interests.

[ image: Prolonged tension: Matthew Rose was in prison awaiting trial for several weeks]
Prolonged tension: Matthew Rose was in prison awaiting trial for several weeks
However, he has denied reports that he is planning a full-time musical career with his band Hung Up.

Absolom said that he had had a great time working on EastEnders with such a supportive and "brilliant" cast.

But he added that he thought it was time he moved on, especially since the story surrounding recently convicted Matthew had been going on for many months and would be difficult to advance.

"I think people are getting quite bored of it. I've cried so many times on telly, that people just go, `he's crying again', it's not like anything new now," he said.

[ image: Matthew Rose was wrongly convicted for manslaughter]
Matthew Rose was wrongly convicted for manslaughter
The actor said he would continue filming with the show until the end of the year. Viewers will see him onscreen until February.

Since joining the show two years ago, Absolom has been at the centre of some of the most popular storylines.

The latest was this month's trial. Millions of fans were shocked and angered when his character was wrongly convicted for the manslaughter of Saskia Duncan.

The real killer, Steve Owen, played by ex-Spandau Ballet pop star Martin Kemp, walked free.

[ image: Ross Kemp on his last day as Grant Mitchell]
Ross Kemp on his last day as Grant Mitchell
The verdict sparked off a campaign by several newspapers to free the innocent young man, whom they dubbed the Walford One.

EastEnders executive producer Matthew Robinson paid tribute to the actor.

"Joe Absolom has made a huge contribution to EastEnders, culminating in the huge success of the recent trial and verdict storylines," he said.

Robinson added that the door would be left "wide open" for him to return.

Absolom is the latest of a string of established stars to leave the popular programme.

[ image: Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Butcher, has recently left]
Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Butcher, has recently left
Other departures include Ross Kemp, who played Grant Mitchell for 10 years, and Patsy Palmer (Bianca Butcher), while Sid Owen, who plays Ricky Butcher, is taking a career break next year.

Regarded as one of the BBC's rising stars, Absolom has been nominated in the Most Popular Actor category at this year's National Television Awards for his performance as Matthew.

Last month, he picked up the Best Soap Actor award at the TV Quick magazine awards.

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