Archers actor Tom Graham 'deposed' from role
The role of sausage entrepreneur Tom Archer in long-running BBC Radio 4 soap The Archers is to be recast.
Tom Graham, who has played the part for 17 years, revealed on Twitter: "My reign as sausage king of Ambridge has come to an end and I am being deposed."
The character has not featured on the programme for several months after emigrating to Canada but is expected to return in due course.
A BBC spokesman said: "Characters are frequently recast in The Archers."
He added: "We never comment on future storylines."
In his announcement, Graham made it clear that it was not his decision to leave the soap opera.
"It is with much sadness that I must announce that after 17 years of playing Tom Archer in The Archers, the show's editor has taken the decision to recast the part," he wrote.
"It is a great loss to me not to be able to continue giving a voice to Tom's journey when he returns to Ambridge.... I have loved every minute of playing Tom Archer and have grown up alongside him since joining the programme in 1997."
He thanked the listeners and signed off: "And so it is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to my time as Tom Archer. So long, and thanks for all the sausages."
In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, The Archers editor Sean O'Connor said: "I think there was an issue with the younger actors, who have been recruited not from drama school but from local community drama groups.
"What I have been doing is bringing in slightly older actors to play younger characters, because they have been trained and know what they are doing."
O'Connor took over as editor just over a year ago, having previously worked on shows including EastEnders, Footballers' Wives and Hollyoaks.
The Archers is the longest-running radio serial in the world, having first been broadcast in 1950.