Veteran Viv for Emmerdale Xmas Exit

Deena PayneDeena Payne is to be axed from ‘Emmerdale’ after 18 years.

The 56-year-old actress – who joined the rural soap in 1993 as village gossip Viv Hope – is set to leave the rural soap after almost two decades as the show’s longest serving female star.

After joining as landlady of the Woolpack pub, the now legendary village postmistress will leave the Dales in a “major storyline” in the run-up to Christmas.

Deena admits she wasn’t surprised with the news and had already considered leaving herself after becoming “unhappy” her character Viv was being sidelined.

The actress – who recently wed musician Steve Grant – explained to Britain’s Hello! magazine: “The last 16 months have been frustrating… To come in now and then to clear a table or throw a line over my shoulder was horrible. In the past I had two or three major storyline challenges a year.

“I felt bewildered and thought about not accepting another contract because I was so unhappy. If there’s no future for the longest-serving female cast member, it’s time to go. Which is sad in itself.”

Although she is sad t say goodbye to her character, Deena is excited about her future acting career.

She said: “I will miss pulling on her shoulder pads and high heels every morning but I am very excited about what the future holds.”

Tony Audenshaw, who plays her on-screen hubby Bob said: “Viv is an icon. I’m devastated.”

Producer Gavin Blyth added: “Deena’s exit will be both unmissable and moving.”

Deena’s last scenes as Viv will be aired early next year.

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