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.
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.
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.
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.
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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