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Thursday, 20 April, 2000, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Ricky waves goodbye to Walford
EastEnders' Ricky Butcher
Ricky Butcher: Hitching a ride out of Walford
EastEnders favourite Ricky Butcher will walk away from the BBC soap on Thursday night after 12 years in Walford.

Viewers will see him hitching a lift on a lorry bound for the continent after an emotional chat with best mate Phil Mitchell.

Phil tries to persuade him to stay in Albert Square and the pair end up in a fight before Ricky makes his exit.


Eastenders' Ricky and Bianca
Happier times: Ricky and Bianca on their wedding day

Actor Sid Owen, who plays the hapless mechanic, decided to leave EastEnders so he could pursue other projects.

The 28-year-old is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former co-star Martine McCutcheon by launching a pop career.

He is releasing a cover of Sugar Minott's Good Thing Going as his first single and said the change would do him good.

"To be honest, after 12 years in the same job, I need a break," Owen said.

"I have had some brilliant storylines but it will be good to do something else for a while."

Owen, who is also set for roles in two short films, has been given the opportunity to return to EastEnders by scriptwriters, who chose not to kill his character off.


EastEnders wedding group
Wedding party: Ricky with first wife Sam

Bianca

Ricky decides to make a break for it after finding out his estranged wife Bianca has a new boyfriend in Manchester.

She left with son Liam after news of her affair with her mum's boyfriend, Dan, leaked out.

Bianca - played by Patsy Palmer - was Ricky's second wife. His first marriage, to teenage sweetheart Sam Mitchell, also ended in tears.

The pair eventually managed to tie the knot after being chased all the way to Gretna Green by Sam's brothers, Phil and Grant, but it wasn't long before Ricky's broad smile was replaced by his usual hang-dog expression.


EastEnder's Phil Mitchell
Left behind: Ricky's best mate, Phil

Owen said he was pleased that Ricky's final scenes featured just him and Phil (Steve McFadden).

"Both Phil and Ricky have had babies, broken marriages and loads of ups and downs in their lives, and it was good to talk about it all in that episode.

"It's a brilliant script and just as we finished filming it, I burst out crying, really sobbing," he added.

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See also:

29 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Watchdog attacks EastEnders
02 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Axe falls on five EastEnders
24 Feb 00 | Entertainment
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16 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Happy Birthday EastEnders
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