Les Dennis has announced he is leaving Coronation Street in a "very dramatic" storyline. The 62-year-old, who has played Michael Rodwell in the soap since 2014, will say farewell to Weatherfield later this year.
"As a lifelong fan of the show, playing Michael Rodwell in Coronation Street has been a dream come true," Les said. "Becoming part of the ITV Coronation Street family has been a wonderful experience and my decision to leave was a hard one.
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Les Dennis is leaving his role in Coronation Street
"Earlier this year, thanks to Coronation Street giving me a sabbatical from the show, I was thrilled to be able to produce and star in a sell-out production of Alan Bleasdale's Down the Dock Road at the Royal Court Liverpool."
Les continued: "I always knew that the time would come when I would want the freedom to do more projects, and now feels like the right time."
The former Family Fortunes host praised the writers and producers for developing a "very dramatic exit" for his character, which he admitted would be tough to film.
Les has played Michael Rodwell in the soap since 2014
"I'll treasure the two and a half years I have been part of such an iconic show and move on with very fond memories – so many lovely friends and colleagues, and an ambition achieved," he said.
Les took a break from filming the long-running soap earlier this year, but said at the time he was looking forward to returning to the show, with his contract set to last until the end of 2016.
Following Les' confirmation of his departure, Coronation Street producer Kate Oates said he would be missed on the show.
Paula Lane left the show in emotional scenes on Friday
"We're very sad to see Les leave Coronation Street as he's an enormously popular and talented actor," she said. "He's bought warmth, wit and integrity to the character of Michael. We have worked on giving him a great story to ensure a fantastic and dramatic end to his time on the Street. I can't wait to see it unfold!"
Les' departure from the show comes after another of the show's popular characters Kylie Platt, played by Paula Lane, exited the soap in emotional scenes that left many fans "heartbroken".