BRIAN Conley has slammed EastEnders for their "intense" working schedules and revealed his new career plan following his sudden departure.
Speaking on the White Wine Question Time podcast, the actor explained his reasons in full after the Sun told how he quit the soap due to cast members being denied pantomime roles next year.
Conley, 62, revealed that pantomime was a factor in his decision to leave EastEnders – but he also wants more time for other projects.
He told podcast host Kate Thornton: "I'm leaving to pursue other ventures."
When asked if the pantomime was a lucrative income for him, he said: "Well yes, but you know there's other things I do.
"Of course, EastEnders takes up 11 months of your life and at times it's extremely intensive.
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"It's not just about filling my boots. I absolutely love pantomime.
"I love everything that it involves because it does involve everything whether you're acting, pathos, comedy, singing, dancing, ad-libbing, with the kids, topical humour.
"They don't mind you just having a laugh, they want to see that.
"What other discipline (offers that)? If it's a stage show, a musical, you know 'don't break that fourth wall'.
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"So there's all that. Last year in Woking we took £1.4m in four weeks."
Conley shared that he is excited to see how he spends his free time and how he has other projects lined up.
"To be in that position – 'now what shall I do now? – it's very exciting.
"I've got a book now that we're working on that I'm going to bring out next year.
"I'm two years older than when my dad died – 'why don't you go out there and see what else?'
"Whenever I've given anything up, always something, doors have opened. I've never done anything for three years – that's how long I've been in EastEnders.
"Also, I've never gone back to anything either."
The actor is also looking forward to touring with his '3rd Farewell Tour' alongside one of his daughters.
He added: "I just said to my management 'I love it so much'. And another reason is that I'm doing it with one of my daughters, Lucy. She likes doing improv.
"I'm 62, so I have done it for 50 years this business. And that's where I am with EastEnders.
"I made a decision because you're not allowed to do anything else. I just thought 'you know what, I'm not getting any younger – there's a few others things I'd like to do'.
"Even experience getting in a camper van and going through New Zealand. Stuff like that that I've never, ever done.
"Our kids have left home now, everything's paid for, and I just thought it is very full on.
"Because what you have with EastEnders is a lot of homework. When you're there that's the fun bit.
"Always constantly there's stuff you've got to learn. So when you are in the car making your way there or coming home, or my wife going 'Oh, we're going to watch that film', I'm going 'I've got to go in the other room and look at these words'.
"You never sort of get away from it. Even when you're on holiday, you're going 'Oh, what's the next block of scripts'."
Last week The Sun revealed that Conley announced his departure from EastEnders, but no further explanation was given.
A spokeswoman for the show said at the time of his announcement: “As previously stated by Brian Conley earlier in the week, EastEnders are fully supportive of Brian’s decision to leave at the end of his contract and we wish him the very best for the future.”
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They added: “EastEnders cast take part in panto every year, but as we lead up to our milestone 40th anniversary, all cast members have been asked to be involved for storyline purposes.
“We’ve received no complaints. In fact everyone has been supportive of the plan.”
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