EastEnders executive producer Sean O’Connor is stepping down from the soap, the BBC has confirmed.
The TV boss will concentrate on his feature film career at production company Camberwell Productions, where he is working on movies including Handsome Brute, a new project from Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss, the broadcaster said.
O’Connor joined the show in spring 2016 but had previously worked as director, producer and story producer on the soap.
He returned following an 11-year gap after working as the editor of The Archers for three years.
O’Connor said: “I’ve had an amazing time at EastEnders. Working with the editorial staff, cast and crew at Elstree has been an absolute privilege.
“They are the kindest, most loyal and hard-working team in the business.
“But my heart lies in feature films and I’m hugely excited as my film projects are now reaching production.
“When the BBC asked me to take over at EastEnders, my plan was to stay until the end of 2017 but with production starting on these films sooner than anticipated, I must – with a heavy heart – bid farewell to Albert Square.
“I’ll enjoy watching EastEnders go from strength to strength but will miss everybody enormously. Elstree really is a place where you make friends for life.”
John Yorke, who was executive producer of EastEnders from 2000 until 2003 and was responsible for introducing the Slater family and the Who Shot Phil? storyline, will step in as creative director on a temporary basis, the BBC said.
Oliver Kent, head of continuing drama series at BBC Studios, said: “On behalf of BBC Studios, I would like to thank Sean O’Connor for all his excellent work on EastEnders.
“John Yorke is a Walford legend and I am thrilled that he will be joining us for a short period to oversee the show and to help us build on Sean’s legacy while we recruit a long-term successor.”
Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, said: “I want to thank Sean on behalf of the BBC for the work he’s done on EastEnders, and we wish him all the very best for the future.
“John Yorke is a creative force in the industry who is passionate about EastEnders, he brings a wealth of experience to the show and will ensure it’s in safe hands while we start the process to recruit a permanent replacement.”