Danny Dyer has discussed his decision to leave EastEnders for the first time, admitting that he thinks his character Mick Carter "needs to be rested".
Last week it was confirmed that Dyer, 44, had chosen not to renew his contract with the soap after more than eight years in the role and as a result, Mick will be leaving Albert Square later this year.
Talking about the decision on Sorted with the Dyers, his podcast with daughter Dani, he said: "I am leaving EastEnders. I'm very lucky, I'm very grateful.
"When you're in a job like a soap your contract comes up for renewal and every time it has they've asked me to stay, and I'm very grateful for that. Because I've seen a lot of people come and go. It's very tough.
"I always debate whether I want to sign again and I've been contemplating a while now about whether it's time to roll the dice, take the leap."
He continued: "I'm 44 now, and I've had nine years of playing Mick and I think he needs to be rested. I'm still looking for that defining role. Maybe it is there, maybe it isn't. But I've always been quite ambitious and I had quite a long career before I went into EastEnders.
"I know the landscape has changed slightly but I want to go out there and have another go, and the only way I can do that is if I decide to walk away from the job."
Turning to Mick's exit, Dyer revealed: "Let me tell you something - Mick's exit is going to be a very, very powerful thing. I would love the door to be left open, and as far as I know it is.
"So who knows. When I go out there and I fail miserably I can come back with my tail between my legs and go, 'Will you take me back?' But I just want to send out some love to everyone at EastEnders. I love you all very much.
"It'll be a sad year for me, but I'm also very excited about it. So we're going to attack this year, and we're going to make this year a fucking special one."
Prior to joining EastEnders, Dyer was known for his roles in films such as Human Traffic, Mean Machine and The Football Factory, as well as a presenter of documentaries including The Real Football Factories and Danny Dyer's Deadliest Men.