emmerdale

This long-running character is leaving Emmerdale after 12 years

Sandy Thomas will bid farewell to the Dales in scenes to air next week

Hanna Fillingham

Emmerdale viewers are set for an emotional ride next week as it has been confirmed that actor Freddie Thomas, 90 - who plays Sandy Thomas on the ITV soap - will be leaving the show after 12 years. Luckily, Sandy's exit will be a happy one, as it has been revealed that he will find love again with newcomer Maisie. After arriving in the village on a tour bus, Maisie and Sandy hit it off right away, and Sandy is left stunned when Maisie tells him that she's come to speak to him on behalf of his good friend Betty Eagleton – who left Emmerdale in 2014, and is currently residing in Australia.With clear chemistry between Maisie and Sandy – which results in Maisie missing her bus - Sandy is later invited by his new love interest to join her back in Australia. Viewers will see Sandy torn between staying close to his family in Emmerdale and starting a new life Down Under, with daughter-in-law Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy), ultimately persuading him to make the move.

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Emmerdale's Sandy Thomas hits it off with newcomer Maisie when she arrives from Australia

Actor Freddie – who joined the show in 2005 – has said that the decision to leave was his, and that Emmerdale had even offered him another year on the show. He told Radio Times: "It’s about the balance of my life. The company generously offered me another 12 months. But I just thought, 'I have no idea what I’m going to do in another year!' The drama that Ashley’s death gave me last year was monumental. But that’s gone now."

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Maisie offers Sandy tickets to join her Down Under 

The 90-year-old added that his lengthy journey to work each day also had an impact: "I travel three hours by car, book into a hotel and then get up the next day to say maybe three sentences. And then do a three-hour journey back. I can’t justify staying, even though Emmerdale was very generous in asking me to." Throughout his time on the show, Sandy has been involved in a number of major storylines, including a hard-hitting elder abuse plot in 2012, which saw him being beaten up by son Ashley. The pair later restored their differences, but things took another tragic turn for Sandy when in 2017, Ashley passed away following a two-year battle with dementia.

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