Actress Pam St Clement announced that she will be leaving Eastenders after playing Pat Butcher for 25 years. On Twitter, the news has been met with an outcry.
Pat first appeared on the BBC One soap opera in 1986, and was known for her bright, dangly earrings.
"I have enjoyed 25-and-a-half wonderful years in Eastenders creating the character of Pat, but feel it's time to hang up her earrings," Pam said.
"Leaving the Eastenders 'family' will be akin to a bereavement but I'm looking forward to the other work and life opportunities that I will have the time to pursue,” she 69-year-old added.
Barbara Windsor, who starred in the series as Peggy Mitchell, a long time friend of Pam’s, said that she “created a truly iconic character in Pat.”
Pam is the second long serving member of the cast after Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale on the series.
"It's always a sad day when one of our stars leave. When those stars are as important as Pam St Clement and the character as iconic as Pat Butcher, the blow is doubly hard,” said John Yorke, controller of BBC drama production.
York also called Pam a “total professional” and “an endless champion of the programme.”
Directors have not revealed how she will exit the show.
Eastenders is one of the most watched shows in the UK, and has earned consistently high ratings since it first aired in 1985. The soap opera focuses on the personal and professional lives of fictional East London residents.
Pat Butcher fans are saying their farewells on Twitter.
TooTrueForU tweeted: “Pat Butcher has announced that her 25 years of Eastenders are long over. We will be sad to see Pat leave our screens!”
“Pat Butcher is leaving EastEnders? Nooooooooooo! I love seeing what kind of dodgy earrings Pat is wearing in every episode!” said Krust8.
elmarinero86 tweeted: “End of an era. No more News of the World crossword and No more Pat Butcher. What is the world coming to!?!”
What are your thoughts on this icon’s departure from the series?