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Updated: Westbrook to leave 'EastEnders'

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Westbrook to leave 'EastEnders'
EastEnders actress Danniella Westbrook is to bow out of the soap at the end of the year, Digital Spy can confirm.

The 35-year-old, however, has not been 'axed' from the programme as a weekend tabloid newspaper suggests - she has simply fulfilled her original three-month contract which ties in with the close of her character's story.

In April, it was announced that Westbrook - who plays Sam Mitchell in the BBC soap - was to return to the show after a nine-year absence.

Last week, she made her screen comeback, much to the shock of her family. As she was still on the run from the police for perverting the course of justice, the Mitchells attempted to hide her in The Vic.

However, Bianca (Patsy Palmer) informed the police of Sam's presence on the Square, which promptly resulted in her arrest.

Sam's storyline reaches a dramatic climax at the end of the year, resulting in her departure from the soap.

Speaking exclusively to DS this morning, EastEnders' executive producer Diederick Santer said: "When Danniella and I first sat down to talk about her return, we discussed a particular storyline with a specific length of contract. These plans haven't changed. Danniella has done brilliantly and I hope that she will be back with us at some point in the future."

A spokesperson for the show this morning told DS: "Danniella was bought back to EastEnders for a specific storyline and a set amount of time only. We are not going into the exact details as we don’t want to spoil the storyline for our viewers but Danniella's contract has not been cut short - in fact it has been extended slightly."

They added: "We have been thrilled with how Sam Mitchell's return has been received with our audience and hope that they continue to enjoy her storylines over the next few months."

A source added: "Sam's story is interweaved with lots of others - expect fireworks. In typical Mitchell style, though, she won't go quietly. The door will remain open for Sam - and Danniella - to return in the future."

Since her return, Westbrook has explained in various interviews that she had reprised the role "for a limited time". When asked how long she would be filming for, she told the soap's official site: "Only a short while, which was the deal. I've just come in to get the story done." Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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