It was announced over the weekend that Samantha Womack would be leaving her role as Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders after playing the character for almost 10 years on the BBC One soap.

Samantha Womack as Ronnie / Credit: BBC

Samantha Womack as Ronnie / Credit: BBC

Taking to her Twitter account, the star wrote: "Thank you SO much for all your kind words about me leaving EE, it's so humbling to know you loved Ronnie as much as I did! Very grateful Xxx".

Involved in a pair of murders, having gone through trauma as a child after being raped by her father and tragically losing her son, James, it's not been an easy road for the Mitchell family member, with Albert Square providing obstacles for her to overcome at every turn.

Ronnie will be remaining in the soap until next year, with an explosive and dramatic storyline bringing her exit to the small screen.

We'll be sad to see her go, having seen Ronnie through so many incredible storylines - but which four other characters and actors do we wish had never left?

1) Pam St. Clement as Pat Butcher (1986-2012)

Qutting the show after 25 incredible years, Pam St. Clement gave the writers free rein as to what to do with her character, Pat Butcher. Despite reprising her role to say goodbye to the character next on our list earlier this year, there's no way Pat could ever return to EastEnders full-time following her well-documented on-screen death. Stranger things have happened in the land of soap, but as much as we may want to see her back, it wouldn't make sense or do the character or show justice if she miraculously returned. Pat and her earrings may be gone from the small screen, but they'll always be in our soap-loving hearts!

2) Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell (1994-2010, 2013-16)

Though it was a woman by the name of Jo Warne that originally played Peggy Mitchell, it was Barbara Windsor who truly put her stamp on the character and forged an incredible legacy for the Walford matriarch. Her final storyline saw cancer return to her breasts, with the news making huge waves across the Square. With the disease spreading to her brain and being noted as terminal, Peggy asked her son Phil to help her die, but when Grant was called back to London by Sharon, they decide she should live out her days as naturally as possible. Despite that, Peggy holds firm and makes the decision to take her own life, wanting to be known as a strong woman and not a frail one who died in her bed. Taking a lethal overdose, she died in her sleep and left her family, and the nation, devastated. We'll forever miss Peggy, and her brilliant 'Get outta my pub!'

3) Ricky Norwood as Fatboy (2010-15)

It was a shame to see Ricky Norwood cut from the show under such unconventional circumstances. Having been caught (literally) with his pants down on webcam, smoking illegal substances, it was announced that the actor would be leaving the BBC soap at the end of his contract in 2015. Leaving on Christmas Eve, the character of Fatboy was killed off-screen in the next episode, leaving fans devastated and setting up petitions to bring the character back. Dying in a case of mistaken identity and not even being able to give a performance before the doomed exit must have been gut-wrenching for Norwood - but the fact his death took place off-screen and we never saw a proper body means that he could make a return at some point in the future. Perhaps his stint on the current series of Celebrity Big Brother will help secure him the return we've all wanted since his departure.

4) Nina Wadia as Zainab Masood (2007-13)

Oh, Zainab. The shining comedic star in a soap full of tragedy and distress. Though she may have initially been bigoted and ignorant in her views, she was a brilliant funnel for some comic relief in times of trouble. It wasn't all laughs for her though, as she also tackled some incredibly topical storylines. Her son Syed came out as gay and she went through the difficulties a practicing Muslim would face in accepting her son and his relationship with another man. She was also manipulated and violently assaulted by Yusef before his death, before she decided that the streets of Albert Square had become too much for her, moving to Pakistan. Though she hasn't been the best mother to her children, it would be awesome to see her make a big return to EastEnders. She'll always be known as one of the soap's funniest characters and to see her back hitting some great one liners out of the park would be fantastic.

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