Helen Pearson is set to depart from 'Hollyoaks' after 15 years.

Helen Pearson

Helen Pearson

The 57-year-old actress has portrayed pub landlady Francine 'Frankie' Osbourne on the popular Channel 4 soap for a whopping 15 years, but it has now been revealed she will leave the show later this month in scenes which were filmed back in September.

A source told The Sun newspaper: "Helen is a soap legend. Her absence will really be felt as she is part of the furniture at 'Hollyoaks'. But she's off to pastures new and it has been a really hard decision."

Frankie's exit will come as her ex-husband Johnno Dean - who is played by Colin Wells - is set to make a dramatic return to the fictional Chester suburb for the first time in 12 years, when he will offer Frankie the chance to move away with him.

It isn't the first soap that Helen has bowed out of either, as she held a minor role in BBC's 'EastEnders' as April McIntosh in 1990, and joined ITV's 'Emmerdale' as Carol Wearing from 2000 to 2001.

Meanwhile, whilst Helen's contract is coming to an end, fellow cast member Kieron Richardson - who has played Ste Hay since 2006 - recently revealed he has signed new papers with the show after his alter-ego was cleared of charges brought against him for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Amy Barnes (Ashley Slanina-Davies).

He said: "I've signed a new contract this year, which is massively exciting because it means I'm going to be doing my 1,000th episode. Considering the show has only done 4,000 episodes, it's a massive achievement.

"I think there's going to be some nod to the 1,000 episode marker, but I don't know what it'll be yet. Maybe they'll do nothing in the end, but I'm still super proud to have survived 1,000 episodes and not been killed off!

"Even after doing all those episodes, I still feel like I'm learning every single day and that's the beauty of being in 'Hollyoaks'.

"All the time, amazing new actors are coming in, younger kids are joining the show and I'm still trying to steal bits of what they do to put into my character."