Hollyoaks boss Bryan Kirkwood has confirmed he will be stepping down as showrunner of the Channel 4 soap at the end of 2020.
This will mark the end of Kirkwood's second stint as showrunner – he previously served as Hollyoaks executive producer between January 2006 and December 2009 – after returning to take over the show again in June 2012.
"For many years I have had the privilege of running a soap opera with a fiercely loyal audience," Kirkwood said in a statement.
"I passionately believe that soaps can help viewers start serious conversations about their lives and in recent years we have covered important topics within mental health, sexual consent, Far-Right radicalisation, male rape, sexual abuse and many issues other shows might look away from...
"It has also been a joy to deliver the plot buster stories that 'can only happen on Hollyoaks', stories that give our viewers an entertaining escape into a heightened world.
"I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved, and I want to thank the entire team. Their talent, warmth, loyalty and friendship are why I stayed so long.
"The 25th anniversary feels like an elegant time to hand the reins over to someone else but I'm confident that the beating heart of Hollyoaks – the people who make it – will keep the show around for another 25 years," he added.
Kirkwood told Hollyoaks production company Lime Pictures of his plans to leave at the end of 2020 back in March.
His episodes are expected to remain on screen until June 2021, which means Kirkwood will oversee the soap's 25th anniversary celebrations in October.
During his time on the soap, Kirkwood has seen Hollyoaks tell a wide range of important and hard-hitting storylines around mental health and LGBTQ+ issues that have resulted in many awards for the soap, including Best Soap award at the British Soap Awards in 2014 and 2019.
"Bryan has been the untiring creative force behind the extraordinary resurgence of Hollyoaks," Ian Kantz, Channel 4's Director of Programmes, added.
"He's taken the show into new territory with some extraordinarily brave storylines and soap firsts and collected numerous awards.
"I'm immensely grateful for his steering of the show safely back to screen next week and leaving it in top creative form and I wish him all the best for his next chapter."
Hollyoaks makes its return on Monday, September 7 at 6.30pm on Channel 4. The next episode then airs at 7pm on E4 that evening.
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