Emmerdale actress Sammy Winward has reportedly decided to leave the soap after 13 years. The star is said to be bowing out next year in order to focus on other acting opportunities – but ITV bosses are "gutted" by her decision.
"Sammy is the Michelle Keegan of Emmerdale so everyone is gutted she's leaving," a source told The Sun. "She's hugely popular and her character has been a big part in the show overtaking EastEnders."
Sammy Winward is leaving Emmerdale after 13 years, according to reports
The 29-year-old apparently broke the news of her departure after filming this year's Christmas scenes, in which her character Katie remarries Andy Sugden (Kelvin Fletcher).
The insider said the producers "haven't decided yet" how Katie will make her exit, but added, "Emmerdale loves a big death because it's great for their ratings."
Since her first appearance on the soap in July 2001, Sammy has been involved in some major storylines, including a fling with Andy's half-brother Robert, being left in a coma after a car accident, and falling down a disused mine.
She briefly took time off air from June 2005 until February 2006 when she welcomed her baby girl Mia.