In her first interview on quitting her role after 12 years as ward sister Chrissie Williams in BBC1's Holby City, Tina Hobley reveals why she had to leave – but also why she could never be a stay-at-home mum.
"I didn't become an actress to play just one role. It’s time to hang up my scrubs and go out and there and give it my all. I feel I have to take that leap of faith and see what else is out there," said the 42-year-old actress and mother of three children Isabella, 14, Olivia, five and Orson, three.
"I haven't lived the normal actor's life, where I don't know where my next job is coming from – but that in itself feels exciting."
Working on such a long-running drama and bringing up three children has been a challenge. "I would be lying if I said it doesn't have a huge impact on the family," she told HELLO! of the busy filming schedule.
"I am an emotional mother and sometimes it was tough. I might have a full-on storyline, where I wouldn’t see Orson for a month because he was asleep when I left in the morning and returned in the evening. I constantly messed up his routines because I would go in and wake him up just so I could hug him, smell him and whisper in his ear: "Mummy is here."
"Then it really struck me one day when somebody asked Olivia if she wanted to be an actress when she grew up and she said: 'No, because they never get to see their family'. That really hit home."
Even so Tina, who leaves the series in September and is on screen until November, is keen to point out that she could never be a stay-at-home mother – not because she doesn’t value her role as a mum, but because she loves her work.
"Actually being around so much more will take some getting used to and might be my biggest challenge. The important thing is to create a balance."
Tina would ditch her trademark beauty for the right role.
"I would do whatever was needed for a role. Even if that meant putting on two stone or playing a mother of six in a council estate with no make-up and hair scraped back."
She reveals she does not want to leave it too late to take her career in a new direction. "There are great parts for women in their forties and fifties right now," she said. "But if I don’t do it now, I will miss the boat.
"I was 29 when I started on the show and I have spent a huge chunk of my life there. It has been a second home to me and even now as I start to clear out my dressing room, I get all teary. It has been a long and hard decision to make. It is going to be a big adjustment."
Read the full interview in the new edition of HELLO! magazine out today.