Tim Vine has announced he is leaving the hit BBC One comedy series Not Going Out.
The stand-up comedian has played Lee Mack's uptight and sensible best friend in the gag-packed studio sitcom since it launched in 2006, appearing in a total of 34 episodes in all. However, he has now indicated he wishes to leave the show in order to concentrate on new projects.
The comedian told The Sun newspaper: "I'm great friends with everyone on the cast and I've had a great time doing it but after five series I simply fancied a change."
A source added: "Tim loves the show and it has made him a big star. But he has now had enough. He's got lots of other work coming in and is keen to try other things. He's been doing the show for six years and has been through the highs and lows. But he figures he may as well quit while he is ahead and make the most of his popularity."
With the format now averaging over 4 million viewers an episode whilst most comedies struggle to make 1m, the BBC have already ordered another two series, which will keep the show on air until at least 2014.
A BBC source told Sun reporter Colin Robertson: "We'll be introducing some exciting new characters in the next series. It's now what might be termed a long-running sitcom. It has had several changes of cast along the way and has grown audience rather than lost it."
Series 6 of Not Going Out will be broadcast next year.