EastEnders viewers have threatened to boycott the show after Max Bowden was axed.
The actor, 29, has played Ben Mitchell on the BBC soap for four years.
However, bosses have decided not to renew Max’s contract when it ends in March.
His last scenes will air in the spring but it is understood his character Ben, who has been played by numerous actors in the past, will not be killed off.
An EastEnders spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Max will be leaving EastEnders next year. We wish him all the best for the future.’
EastEnders viewers have threatened to boycott the show after Max Bowden (pictured in November 2023) was axed
The actor, 29, has played Ben Mitchell on the BBC soap for four years (pictured on the show last June)
A TV insider told The Sun: ‘Max has played Ben for the last four years and bosses decided his time on the show was up.
‘There has been a lot of noise around him for a bit too long and that can take away from the drama on the show.
‘He went in for a meeting as his contract was up for renewal next year, No one knew how it was going to go and following discussions it was decided that he would leave.’
However furious fans took to social media to declare that they would be boycotting the show after Max leaves.
One said: ‘I cannot watch @bbceastenders knowing that I will never see them again.’
Another added: ‘#Eastenders already feels wrong. I’ll be happy to quit watching once Max Bowden leaves. If #Emmerdale could only bring Robert back, it would replace EE for me.’
A third vowed: ‘I swear this to you now I will never watch another episode.’
Others added comments to show their devastation at the fan favourite leaving: ‘Still gutted about the fact that Max Bowden has been axed,’ as another fan said: ‘Absolutely gutted to hear Max Bowden is leaving Eastenders. HOWEVER it does mean I can stop watching Eastenders.’
Devastated fans took to social media to say they would stop watching the BBC soap
Max broke his silence after the axe on Sunday, taking to his Instagram story to celebrate his birthday.
He told his fans he had been ‘surrounded by love’ all day and was ‘feeling grateful’ as he thanked viewers for their support.
Alongside an image of the soap star enjoying a meal with family and friends, he wrote: ‘Been surrounded by love all day celebrating my birthday.
‘Grateful for family and friends. Thanks for all the messages. Big love.’
Max, who is the sixth actor to play Ben, was involved in some of the soap’s biggest storylines of late.
Ben struggled to cope with the death of Lola Pearce-Brown (Danielle Harold) who was mother to his daughter Lexi.
He then developed eating disorder bulimia as he attempted to work through his grief.
The actor, 29, took to his Instagram Story on Sunday to celebrate his birthday, telling fans he had been ‘surrounded by love’ all day and was ‘feeling grateful’
It has been claimed that BBC bosses decided not to renew Max’s contract when it ends in March (pictured in June 2023)
Stacey Slater, Suki Kaur Panesar, Linda Carter, Sharon Watts, Denise Fox and Kathy Beale, found themselves embroiled in a series of events that led to Keanu’s demise
Several men had been teased as the potential victim in addition to Keanu and Nish before Christmas, with Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), Tom ‘Rocky’ Cotton (Brian Conley), Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo) and Ravi Gulati (Aaron Thiara) involved
Max’s personal life hit the headlines when his romance with his EastEnders co-star Shona McGarty first came to light in May 2022.
Sources claimed the pair were ‘inseparable’ following his split from girlfriend Roisin Buckle, and they made their relationship Instagram official in August 2022.
However, Max and Shona split following a six-month romance in October 2022, with sources claiming at the time the pair had decided to remain friends after Max welcomed a baby boy with his ex Roisin.
In September 2022, Max revealed he was a father for the first time following the birth of his son with ex Roisin.
Roisin and Max both shared a sweet black and white photo of their son, who was born on September 19, 2022, as they revealed they had named him Reginald.
The pair revealed they were expecting their first child in April 2022.
The soap star met Roisin at a pub in June 2021. The pair quickly became close, and in July went on holiday to Madeira.
The couple decided to separate in March 2022, while agreeing to co-parent once their son was born, however Roisin claimed in August that they had not been in contact for two months.
The same month, Max was spotted at a country music festival with his EastEnders colleague Shona McGarty, 32, at London’s O2.
Max’s personal life hit the headlines when his romance with his EastEnders co-star Shona McGarty (left) first came to light in May 2022
Shona is known for her role as Whitney Dean in EastEnders (pictured with Max as Ben on the soap in 2019)
In March 2023, it was claimed Max enjoyed secret tryst in his dressing room with Love Island’s Olivia Hawkins during a set party ahead of her villa stint.
It was said Max and Olivia – who once appeared as an extra in the BBC soap – took some ‘time alone together’ during a set party at Elstree Studios last summer.
Their racy liaison was reportedly the ‘talk of the set’, with an insider claiming that the pair were ‘were gone for a while’.
It was reported that Max had flirted online with the brunette stunner, liking a sexy social media snap of hers.
However, it turns out that the two were already acquainted following their alleged get together at the EastEnders bash, with it said that it was obvious they were ‘more than friends’.
Last weekend, it was reported Max had a lucky escape after after being involved in a three-car collision in Surrey.
Max emerged unscathed but appeared to be shaken up following the accident in Sunbury-on-Thames, according to onlookers.
The soap star met ex Roisin Buckle at a pub in June 2021. The pair quickly became close, and in July went on holiday to Madeira. The couple decided to separate in March 2022
In September 2022, Max revealed he was a father for the first time following the birth of his son with ex Roisin
In pictures obtained by The Sun, the soap star emerged from the scene with no injuries, despite the vehicle’s bumper completely destroyed.
A source told the publication: ‘It was all very fast. We just saw this car was absolutely demolished and then my girlfriend said, “Is that Ben Mitchell?”
‘He looked pretty stunned by the whole thing. He must have been pretty badly shaken up.’
A Surrey Police spokeswoman said: ‘We were called to a collision involving three vehicles in Sunbury-on-Thames on Friday.
‘The collision occurred around 1.10pm just off the Sunbury Cross roundabout and involved a red Mazda, a black Mercedes and a grey Kia.
‘There were no injuries or arrests resulting from the incident.’
News of Max’s exit comes after his former co-star Danny Walters’ character Keanu Taylor was killed during the climax of EastEnders storyline The Six, which was first teased in February of this year and alluded to the murder.
During the Christmas Day episode, six of Walford’s matriarchs; Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), Suki Kaur Panesar (Balvinder Sopal), Linda Carter (Kellie Bright), Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), Denise Fox (Diane Parish) and Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth), found themselves embroiled in a series of events that led to what looked to be the character’s demise.
Several men had been teased as the potential victim including; Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), Tom ‘Rocky’ Cotton (Brian Conley), Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo), Nish Panesar (Navin Chowdhry) and Ravi Gulati (Aaron Thiara).
Towards the end of the episode the women were drinking in the Queen Vic pub on Albert Square before they invited Nish along to talk things out with Suki.
Matters got physical when Nish tried to take Suki from the pub and Denise responded by hitting him over the head with a bottle.
This action was initially believed to have killed him, but after Suki performed CPR, she managed to get him breathing again and told the others he was alive, upon which she discovered Keanu on the floor.
He had been stabbed by Linda after he entered the pub and strangled Sharon, upon believing her to have killed Nish.
In March 2023, it was claimed Max enjoyed secret tryst in his dressing room with Love Island’s Olivia Hawkins during a set party ahead of her villa stint
Last weekend it was reported Max had a lucky escape after after being involved in a three-car collision in Surrey (pictured in September 2023)
Things had also heated up between the two as, earlier in the episode, Sharon had told him he was not biologically related to their son Albie.
She revealed the news after the couple’s wedding was disrupted when Phil Mitchell gatecrashed and told Sharon that her husband-to-be was the person behind the kidnapping of their young son.
Teasing the festive episode, the British soap had aired a first-of-its-kind flash forward scene earlier in the year on February 20 which offered viewers a glimpse at the 2023 Christmas Day storyline.
The clip showed a shocked-looking Sharon with blood on her wedding dress, taking the unknown man’s pulse before exclaiming: ‘He’s dead.’