EastEnders confirms Abi Branning's exit date

Actress Lorna Fitzgerald is leaving the BBC soap after 12 years

Gemma Strong

EastEnders fans can expect highly-emotional scenes next week when Abi Branning's life support machine is finally switched off. Abi (actress Lorna Fitzgerald) was declared brain dead after falling from the roof of the Queen Vic on Christmas Day, and her family will make the heart-breaking decision to turn off her life support in the episode airing on Friday 19 January, Digital Spy confirms. Abi has not regained consciousness since the accident, and her father Max has refused to accept his daughter's fate. But next week, the Brannings are told nothing more can be done for Abi, and Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa) is seen getting tough with her dad as the reality of the situation dawns on her. Max then resorts to desperate measures to try and save Abi – but a nurse intervenes and shares her own experience with heartbroken Max, which eventually calms him down.


Max Branning has been in denial over daughter Abi Branning's fate on EastEnders

Adding further to his pain, however, Max takes delivery of a package for his dying daughter during Thursday's episode – a cot for her newborn baby girl. Max throws himself into building the cot for his tiny granddaughter, only for his grief to catch up with him and he ends up angrily destroying it in front of shocked Dot and Jack.

STORY: Jacqueline Jossa opens up about EastEnders exit for the first time


Lauren Branning will be seen struggling with her own grief 

On Friday, the family are called to the hospital to say their final goodbyes to Abi – but will they be able to convince Max to go? And with the news that Lauren will also leave Albert Square, is there more high drama in store for the Brannings?

STORY: EastEnders' Jo Joyner says actress 'actually fell' filming the Branning Christmas episodes


Max is comforted by Jack Branning as worried Dot looks on

It was confirmed in September that the Branning sisters would be leaving EastEnders as part of a big cast shake-up by TV boss John Yorke. A spokesperson at the time said: "We can confirm that Jacqueline and Lorna will be leaving EastEnders. They have both been wonderful to work with and we wish them all the best for the future." Lorna, who has played Abi since 2006, recently confessed that she was looking forward to new opportunities. Talking to the Metro, the 21-year-old actress said: "I've been here since I was ten so I am just going along with it, really. I have been here for a fantastic 11 years so I am just looking forward to what the future holds."

STORY: EastEnders confirms more major character returns

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