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The executive producer of EastEnders, Louise Berridge, has quit after two years in the job.
Her decision ends a torrid year for the BBC soap, which has seen ratings slump to just over 6 million viewers and storylines criticised as incredible.
"I've loved every minute of my time on EastEnders, but felt it the right time to move on to new challenges," she said.
Ms Berridge said it was a privilege to lead the show "even when faced with the unexpected".
Despite the ratings trauma at EastEnders, Ms Berridge received support from the most senior levels at the corporation. Last month the BBC1 controller, Lorraine Heggessey, defended her record but admitted the soap had been through a rough patch.She blamed staffing problems, saying the combination of sickness, pregnancy and "rehabilitation" in the cast for "overdependence on a storyline about a kidney transplant" between two of the Asian characters.
The Ferriera family also came under fire from young Asians who branded the storylines unbelievable and the family poorly researched with its apparent mix of Muslim, Christian and Hindu characters.
And last week Mal Young, the head of continuing drama series at the BBC, made no apologies for the soap's depressing storylines, claiming viewers "like to wallow in other people's misery".
Today he said: "This must be the toughest programme-making role on British TV. Louise has done a superb job, overseeing some of the most talked about telly moments of the last three years. It's a relentless job, both as manager and lead creative of over 200 hours of prime time drama, in a very public spotlight.
"There are not many people talented or resilient enough to handle this job, and Louise has proved herself one of the few. Without Louise, there'd be no Alfie Moon, no Dennis Watts.
"At a time of all channels losing audience share, she has helped EastEnders keep its share stable year on year. We're sorry to see her leave her current position, but pleased that she's staying on in BBC drama, as she will now be involved in a major new drama project."
The new executive producer of EastEnders will be Kathleen Hutchison, currently the executive producer of BBC1's highly successful Holby City.