EastEnders star Jake Wood has broken his silence following the announcement of his exit from the soap last week after 15 years on the show.
The TV star, 48, who has appeared as Max Branning on screen since 2006, will be leaving Albert Square with an ‘explosive storyline’.
However in an Instagram post on Sunday addressing his decision to leave, he admitted that he is grateful to show bosses who have ‘left the door open for him to return’.
Career move: EastEnders star Jake Wood has broken his silence after announcing his exit from the soap last week
Sharing a topless picture with the words ‘New horizons coming soon watch this space’ across it, he wrote: ‘After 15 years I will be leaving Eastenders at the end of this year.
‘I have loved playing Max Branning who amongst other things in that time has had 4 marriages, 10 affairs, 4 children (2 dying from falling from the roof of The Queen Vic), been buried alive, watched unwanted DVDs at Xmas and perhaps most traumatising of all…shared a hot tub with Ian Beale.
‘I have made some truly great friends whilst on the show and I’ll miss everyone there. I’m grateful they have left the door open for Max and I’m excited to see what new horizons are around the corner.
Moving on: Sharing a topless picture with the words ‘New horizons coming soon watch this space’ across it, he wrote: ‘After 15 years I will be leaving Eastenders at the end of this year’
‘Thank you to everyone who has sent me messages this week, I appreciate the love and support.’
It has been claimed that due to social distancing measures, fewer cast members can be allowed on the set at the same time.
And while stars are taking an ‘extended break’, they will not be paid during their time off.
Departing: The TV star, 48, who has appeared as Max Branning on screen since 2006, will be leaving Albert Square with an ‘explosive storyline’
As well as Jake, Lacey Turner is also reportedly set to take a lengthy break from EastEnders just as her character Stacey Fowler has returned to Albert Square while Tiffany Butcher star Maisie Smith was announced as a contestant on Strictly earlier this month.
Yet an EastEnders spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘It is not unusual in soaps for cast to have breaks for storyline reasons or other projects.
‘However these are always planned months in advance and no discussions have taken place about operating a period of extended breaks, nor are we introducing a rotation system.’
It comes after a source told the Mirror: ‘Cast were called by producers over the past few weeks and told that, going forward, they would be operating a period of extended breaks for some.
‘It could see up to a third of the cast off at any one time on a loose rotation system. Actors will not be paid when they are off and they’re not happy. Some are considering quitting.
‘Social distancing means that fewer people can be on set at one time and they have to save money during difficult financial times.’
MailOnline has contacted EastEnders for comment.
Jake was also recently tipped to take part in this year’s I’m A Celebrity, with betting giant Ladbrokes have already placed odds of 3-1 on his involvement.
Rumours: Jake was also recently tipped to take part in this year’s I’m A Celebrity, with betting giant Ladbrokes have already placed odds of 3-1 on his involvement
Jake first joined the EastEnders cast in 2006, and has faced his fair share of drama, including womanising, a secret marriage and even being framed for murder.
Jake’s final scenes are expected to air later this year, as EastEnders fans gear up for the soap’s much-anticipated Christmas storylines.
On his exit an insider told Digital Spy: ‘Sometimes in Soapland big characters have to leave.
‘Bosses are staying tight-lipped about what they have planned for Max, but considering he has played a major part in the show for over 15 years, they are clearly planning something big and he will not be departing Walford quietly.
‘Everyone will be sad to see Jake go as he is not only a great person to have on set but he’s also a fantastic actor.’
His departure comes after Jake took a year-long break from the soap in 2015 to spend more time with his family, with his exit coinciding with Max being wrongfully jailed for Lucy Beale’s murder.
Max then returned to Walford set on revenge, but his plot for payback went a step too far, leading to the death of his daughter Abi on Christmas Day 2017 after falling off the roof of the Queen Vic pub.
Since EastEnders returned to screens last week, fans have been Max embroiled in a nasty feud with Ian Beale, after he cheated him out of his share of the proceeds from selling half of Walford East.
He also took centre stage in EastEnders’ iconic 2007 Christmas Special, when his affair with daughter-in-law Stacey was revealed, leaving his wife Tanya devastated.
Legendary: Jake first joined the EastEnders cast in 2006, and has faced his fair share of drama, including womanising, a secret marriage and even being framed for murder
In 2010 he was left distraught when his son Bradley was tragically killed during the soap’s 25th Anniversary special, before learning seconds later that Stacey had murdered Archie Mitchell after weeks of theories among fans.
Max faced a turbulent relationship with wife Tanya, and despite attempting to rekindle their relationship after she was diagnosed with cancer, she was furious to learn he’d secretly married another woman.
He’s also long been known for his womanising ways, and along with his secret liaisons with now-dead Lucy, he also had an on-off affair with Stacey, and most recently her best friend Ruby Allen.
At odds: Since EastEnders returned to screens last week, fans have been Max embroiled in a nasty feud with Ian Beale