It was a happy-ever-after more than a decade in the making, but legendary Hollyoaks couple John Paul McQueen (James Sutton) and Craig Dean (Guy Burnet) are officially no more, producers have confirmed.
The fan favourite pair, who reunited off-screen in 2017 when John Paul left Hollyoaks village for a new life in Singapore, have broken up once again to pave the way for Sutton's imminent return to the soap, Digital Spy reports.
The news is likely to come as a disappoint to 'McDean' fans, who've been invested in the characters' relationship ever since the former best friends' illicit onscreen affair in 2007, which became one of the biggest gay soap storylines of the noughties.
However, Hollyoaks executive producer Bryan Kirkwood has defended the decision to reintroduce John Paul to the village as a single man, telling Inside Soap it's an unavoidable consequence of Guy Burnet's ongoing commitment to other projects, which include Amazon Prime series The Feed.
"If an actor doesn't want to come back, there's not much you can do about it", Kirwood said.
"Guy Burnet is so loved by many of us at Hollyoaks, he's still in touch with many of the cast — but he doesn't want to return, and James does. We'd be fools not to take James up on that offer."
He added: "In terms of John Paul and Craig, I see them as having a lifetime of tortured romance — that will inevitably mean the occasional break-up."
It looks like Craig is bearing the blame for McDean's current status too, with Sutton revealing that the character's infidelity will be addressed upon John Paul's return to screens next week.
"Craig's run off with a personal trainer", said Sutton. "I know, I can't believe it either!
"It's all dealt with on screen though, it's not just glossed over."
Hollyoaks continues on tonight (2 December) at 6.30pm on Channel 4.