EastEnders is set to lose another of its leading stars after Rita Simons confirmed she is leaving the BBC show. The actress, who plays Roxy Mitchell, announced her departure on Thursday – just days after her on-screen sister Samantha Womack revealed she was quitting her role as Ronnie Mitchell in 2017.
A BBC spokesperson confirmed: "We can confirm that Rita Simons will be leaving EastEnders. Having joined the show in 2007, Rita immediately won the hearts of the audience in the role of Roxy Mitchell, and between her and Samantha Womack they created one of the most iconic duos EastEnders has ever seen.
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Rita Simons is leaving her role as Roxy Mitchell
"Alongside Samantha, Rita was recently offered to take part in the same big storyline that will see the Mitchell sisters depart Walford, but we will not be releasing any further details at this time. We wish Rita all the best for the future."
Following the announcement, Rita took to Twitter to thank all of her fans for their support.
"Thanku guys 4 all the continued love & support u have shown me (and Roxy) over the years. I'm so grateful for my time on EE. Love to you all," Rita wrote, adding: "As the saying goes 'Mitchell sisters… together forever' @Sam_Womack Haaaaa you're stuck with me sis!"
Rita's on-screen sister Samantha Womack is also leaving EastEnders in 2017
The news comes just days after Samantha revealed she too was leaving the BBC soap. The 43-year-old said she was "very grateful" for the messages she had received from fans in a message on the social networking site on Sunday.
"Thank you SO much for all your kind words about me leaving EE, it's so humbling to know you loved Ronnie as much as I did! Very grateful Xxx," she tweeted.
The stars are expected to leave the BBC One soap in 2017, but further details aren't known about their departure.