Hollyoaks executive producer Bryan Kirkwood has announced his departure from the show for a second time.
The shock news comes a month before the Channel 4 soap celebrates its milestone 25th anniversary and just days before it returns to air after a short coronavirus-enforced break from the schedules.
Kirkwood's first stint in charge of the show came between 2006 and 2009, where he earned praise for storylines such as the romance between John Paul and Craig, before he got the top job on EastEnders in 2010.
After two years he returned to Hollyoaks and has overseen the last eight years' worth of plotlines and as a result of scheduling, his stories will continue to play out on screen until June 2021.
"For many years I have had the privilege of running a soap opera with a fiercely loyal audience," Kirkwood said in a statement. "I passionately believe that soaps can help viewers start serious conversations about their lives.
"In recent years we have covered important topics within mental health, sexual consent, Far-Right radicalisation, male rape, sexual abuse and many issues other shows might look away from.
"It has also been a joy to deliver the plot buster stories that 'can only happen on Hollyoaks', stories that give our viewers an entertaining escape into a heightened world.
"I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved, and I want to thank the entire team. Their talent, warmth, loyalty and friendship are why I stayed so long.
"The 25th anniversary feels like an elegant time to hand the reins over to someone else but I'm confident that the beating heart of Hollyoaks – the people who make it - will keep the show around for another 25 years."
Kirkwood is said to have informed production company executives of his desire to leave the show in March, months before an investigation was launched into allegations of racism on set.
"He's taken the show into new territory with some extraordinarily brave storylines and soap firsts and collected numerous awards.
"I'm immensely grateful for his steering of the show safely back to screen next week and leaving it in top creative form and I wish him all the best for his next chapter."
Hollyoaks returns to Channel 4 on Monday at 6.30pm.