Scott Maslen is going to miss his co-star Samantha Womack "dreadfully" when she leaves 'EastEnders'.
The pair play on-screen husband and wife Jack and Ronnie Branning in the BBC One soap and Scott admits it won't be the same on set when the 38-year-old actress leaves later this year to appear in new musical 'South Pacific'.
But the 39-year-old actor thinks the time is right for Samantha - who has two children, 10-year-old Ben and Lily, six, with her husband Mark Womack - to take a break, especially after the attention their controversial baby swap storyline attracted.
He told buzz magazine: "I'm going to miss her dreadfully, although I'm not going to miss her singing all the time on set! But Sam has had a very intense few years with both work and her personal life. I think she needs to have a break. She's got two kids but with all the work she does she never gets to see them. That's hard enough when you're a dad, but when you're a mum it's really tough but the door will always be open for her at 'EastEnders'."
However, Scott is adamant Samantha isn't leaving because she had a problem with the plotline which saw Ronnie and Jack's son James die from cot death leading to her grieving character swap the dead tot for Kat Moon's child Tommy - scenes which attracted around 14,000 complaints from shocked viewers.
Scott - who is close friends with Samantha in real life and is godfather to her kids, while she is godmother to his son Zak, his child with his wife Estelle - added: "Word got out that Sam was very upset about the baby-swap but actually that's untrue. The truth is we're all actors and some days you play good characters and some days you play terrible characters. That's our job."