EastEnders cast members Marc Elliott and John Partridge, who play gay couple Syed Masood and Christian Clarke, are to be written out of the BBC One soap.

It’s after Marc Elliott decided to leave the long-running show.

PA reports the actor saying: “I have had a brilliant time on EastEnders over the last three and a half years and made some amazing friends.

“During this time, I have been blessed with some incredible storylines and am especially pleased that the show has tackled and raised awareness of the sensitive subject matter of being a gay Muslim.

“As an actor you are always looking for new challenges and I feel that now is the right time to move on and explore different projects, perhaps returning to my roots in theatre.”

Actor John Patridge, who is openly gay in real life, said: “I have had the time of my life at EastEnders – but I have always gone with my gut, and leaving at the same time as Marc felt like the only thing to do.

“It is the right end to the story and for Christian. But also, excitingly, the start of a whole new chapter for me.”

Show bosses have remained tight-lipped about how the couple will leave the square.

Although the BBC has received praise for featuring a prominent same-sex relationship in the soap, last year pop star George Michael criticised the characters’ often violent storylines, saying it was “was scaring the shit out of children”.

He added: “The relationship between Sayed [sic] and Christian is the most insulting piece of bullshit on British television right now”.