HELLO! exclusive: 'Emmerdale' star Deena Payne's mixed emotions at leaving the soap

Speaking exclusivley to HELLO! magazine, Deena revealed her Emmerdale role was being axed a few weeks ago while on holiday in Germany.

“My first feeling was a rope had been taken off, complete relief,” says Deena. “Then came the feelings of anxiousness – you worry about financial security – then rejection, which isn’t nice at all.”

Although shocked at the news, Deena says she’d been expecting something to happen as her character, once the centre of village life, had increasingly less to do.

“The last 16 months have been frustrating,” she tells HELLO! - issue number 1145 - before her wedding blessing. “Things were changing and I think I knew I wasn’t going to be part of that change.

"To come in now and then to clear a table or throw a line over my shoulder was horrible. In the past I had two or three major storyline challenges each year. I relished them and grasped them.

“I felt bewildered and thought about not accepting another contract because I was so unhappy. If there’s no future for the longest-serving female cast member, it’s time to go. Which is sad in itself.”

Deena, 56, spoke as she celebrated her 2010 marriage to musician Steve Grant with a blessing for family and friends in a 13th century church near their Yorkshire home.

The couple tied the knot on a Caribbean beach earlier this year after 21 years together.

Tony Audenshaw, who plays on screen husband Bob, said: “Viv is an absolute icon, she’s up there with the greats. The truth is, I’m devastated. I’ll miss her. Wherever I go people always ask about Viv and Bob.”