EastEnders has shocked fans up and down the country after announcing that popular characters Lauren and Abi Branning, played by Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald, will be leaving the show at the end of the year. Following the news, members of the close-knit cast have spoken out on social media.
Jacqueline, who has played Lauren in the show for seven years, shared a sweet photo of her and Lorna, accompanied by two love heart emojis, shortly after the announcement was made. Fans were quick to send their messages of support to the talented actress, many unhappy with the decision. "Can't believe it, going to miss you both being on EastEnders so much," one wrote, while another said: "So gutted you are leaving." A third added: "Sad to hear you are both going."
Jacqueline Jossa posted a heartfelt message after the news broke of her departure
Jake Wood, who plays the siblings on-screen father, Max Branning, shared a story from The Sun revealing their departure on Twitter, accompanied by a heartbroken emoji. Jo Joyner, who starred in the soap as the sisters' mum Tanya Branning until 2013, tweeted a photo of Jacqueline and Lorna along with a supportive message. She wrote: "Onward and upward you gorgeous and talented ladies. The future is bright @LornaFitz0 @jacquelineMjos see you @ the wknd xx."
Jo Joyner was among those to send her well wishes to her former co-stars
Steven Beale actor Aaran Sidwell, who was killed off in shock scenes on Friday night's show, also shared a message of support to Jacqueline and Lorna alongside a series of photos taken from the EastEnders set. He said: "Both phenomenal actresses to work with. Utter professionals who have been valuable assets to @bbceastenders. Massive futures ahead for them both."
Aaron Sidwell also sent his support to Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald
It's not known how the sisters will leave the show, although it's thought their exits could be part of a major Christmas storyline. Ahead of their departure, Abi and Lauren are set for some dramatic times as they deal with the repercussions of Steven's death. The character was seen declaring his love for Abi in the moments before his death, after discovering she was pregnant with his baby. Spoiler pictures, meanwhile, show recovering alcoholic Lauren relapse as she struggles to come to terms with Steven's death.
Spoiler photos show much more is yet to come before the siblings leave Albert Square
The siblings are also set to discover the secrets of their father Max before they leave. He has been plotting against the people of Albert Square since being released from prison following his wrongful conviction for Lucy Beale's murder. However, his scheme looks set to come to light in the coming weeks, following Jane Beale's discovery of his plans.