Gillian will bow out in October

EastEnders actress Gillian Wright is set to leave the BBC soap after eight years of playing bipolar sufferer Jean Slater.

The actress, 53, is currently filming her final scenes – to be broadcast in October – revolving around her blossoming romance with Tony O’Callaghan‘s character Ollie.

Jean Slater has had some good storylines but Gillian wants to move on,’ says a source.

‘She told bosses several months ago that she was ready to leave, so they have been preparing the groundwork for her departure by developing the storyline with Ollie.

‘The pair have become close but Jean has been hiding her bipolar disorder as she is worried about the impact it will have on their relationship.’

Gillian joined EastEnders in a recurring role in 2004 before going full-time in 2007.

She left with her on-screen daughter Lacey Turner in 2010 but returned a year later and won the gong for Best Actress at the Inside Soap Awards in 2012.

Gillian‘s asked for her alter ego not to be killed off so Jean can come back again in the future.

‘It has been a huge privilege to play Jean Slater these last eight years,’ Gillian tells The Sun.

‘I treasure the viewers’ care for and love for the character – not only through her hard times but through all the laughter too.

‘I will miss EastEnders enormously but it is time for me to step back and enjoy other acting challenges.’

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Anna Duff