Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Saturday, 17 April 2010 13:50 UK

EastEnders to axe six popular characters

EastEnders character Libby Fox
Belinda Owusu has played student Libby Fox since 2006

Some of EastEnders' long-serving stars are being axed as part of a shake-up of the long-running soap opera.

Six characters, including mechanic Rick 'Minty' Peterson, taxi driver Charlie Slater and student Libby Fox are all set to leave Albert Square.

The BBC said details of how they will depart are top secret but "they'll all have exciting exits - and hopefully a few happy endings".

Zoe Lucker and Martin Jarvis are set to join the BBC One soap later this year.

Jarvis will play journalist Harvey Freeman, while Lucker will arrive as a confident businesswoman who catches the eye of Max Branning.

Charlie Slater, played by Derek Martin
Minty, played by Cliff Parisi
Liz Turner, played by Kate Williams
Danny Mitchell, played by Liam Bergin
Libby Fox played by Belinda Owusu
Adam Best, played by David Proud

They will be joined by Jessie Wallace and Shane Ritchie who are reprising their roles as Kat and Alfie Moon.

The changes have been made by new executive producer Bryan Kirkwood who joined Eastenders last month after the soap celebrated its 25th anniversary with a live episode in February.

He had previously worked on Coronation Street and the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks.

"It's sad to see characters leave the Square but obviously when a new executive producer comes on board they're always keen to refresh the show and make some changes," a BBC spokeswoman said.

"It's the way soaps work, characters run their course and new characters come along."

Charlie has been a Square resident for almost 10 years and has helped his family though crisis after crisis, while Minty arrived in Walford eight years ago.

Earlier this month, Tiana Benjamin, who plays beautician Chelsea Fox - Libby's sister - announced she had decided to leave the show after four years.

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