Sam Faiers and Joey Essex

Sam Faiers and Joey Essex

Sam Faiers and Joey Essex plan to quit 'The Only Way Is Essex'.

The reality TV couple want to become the next Katie Price and Peter Andre by starring in their own spin-off show and producers are desperately worried their rumoured departure at the end of the eighth series could mark the end of the ITV2 programme.

An insider revealed: "This is the last thing we needed. Sam is the most popular female on 'TOWIE', one of the few original cast.

"She's had many offers but didn't feel ready to take that leap till now. Her relationship with Joey is one of the main storylines and he's agreed to take that leap with her."

Essex boutique owner Sam has reportedly already filmed a pilot episode with fashion-mad Joey which centres around their 10-month romance and is thought to follow the same format as fly-on-the-wall show 'Katie & Peter'.

The source added to the Sunday Mirror newspaper: "During the break from filming, Sam made a pilot for the spin-off. It concentrates on her relationship with Joey and all the joy and drama that entails.

"An announcement of which network will show it is imminent. There hasn't been a big TV couple since Katie Price and Peter Andre and Joey and Sam are keen to fill the gap.

"Producers are desperate to find new stars to keep the show alive."

'TOWIE' - which returned for its eight series last night (24.02.13) - has seen viewing figures dwindle since the departure of original cast members Mark Wright and Amy Childs, and regulars Lydia Bright and Cara Kilbey have now also quit.