Nina Wadia has left EastEnders and will film exit scenes as Zainab Masood in the coming weeks.
Speaking about her departure, Wadia said: "Playing Zainab has been a gift and a privilege.
"I'll always be hugely proud of the talented friends I've worked with and I'm so grateful for the special bond with our audience who watch, care and talk to us every day. We're a family of millions. Letting go of something you love is never easy but the time has come to move on and every ending brings a new beginning. Here's to future loves."
A source told the Daily Star Sunday newspaper: "Her leaving will mean the end of Zainab and Mas. It's going to be very emotional."
Meanwhile, EastEnders boss Lorraine Newman has commended Nina's "exceptional" work on the soap, saying: "For the past five years Nina has brought to life the wonderful Zainab - the formidable, fun-loving, opinionated, fiercely competitive matriarch.
"Nina's range as an actor is quite exceptional, from her comedic double acts right through to her ability to pull on our heart strings with incredibly moving drama.
"We are very sad to be losing Nina and wish her well in ventures new. She will be missed by the production as much as the audience."