She will be bowing out of EastEnders towards the end of the year in what is believed to be one of the soap's most dramatic exits. Ahead of her imminent departure, Rita Simons has now spoken of her sadness as she prepares to say goodbye to the vivacious Roxy Mitchell.
Recalling the moment she was told about her character's fate, the actress told The Sun: "When Sean [O'Connor] brought the idea to me, it was like I knew I was being given a kick. I knew I needed to do it, and I'm a big believer in the universe guiding you to where you need to go. Obviously I knew that I couldn't stay there forever, and I didn't want to stay there forever. The problem is, because I love everyone so much there and it's such a family environment, you get very used to being there."
Rita Simons has revealed her sadness over her departure from EastEnders
Rita, 39, also confessed she is dreading not working with on-screen sister Samantha Womack, who plays Ronnie Mitchell, in the BBC soap again. "I know in my heart of hearts it's the right thing to do. I needed to get out. I needed to spread my wings," she noted, before adding: "I've spent more time with Sam than I have with my husband and my kids. The thought of leaving her breaks my heart."
The much-loved stars first appeared as Roxy and Ronnie back in 2007, when they were introduced as the cousins of Phil and Grant Mitchell. They have since gone on to become popular members of the show in the decade since they arrived.
"The thought of leaving her [Samantha Womack] breaks my heart," she said
Last month, former co-star and EastEnders stalwart Barbara Windsor publicly criticised the decision to write Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell out of show. "It wasn't the girls' choice," the 79-year-old actress told the Sun. "It's the new producer's decision. I'm sure he will be good for the show, but that is a mistake. When I heard I was shocked." In response, Samantha later tweeted: "Feeling loved and supported by my Auntie P. Love her forever."