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The former Bergerac star films his final scenes in August next year after 14 years as Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby in the hit ITV drama, and told The Sun he was inspired by David Jason quitting A Touch Of Frost.
John, 65, said: "I have been doing it for 13 years, and that's a long time; now David Jason has thrown off his mantle as Frost I realised I would be the oldest detective in the business."
He added: "People are dying around me and so before the grim reaper comes knocking on my door I want to try some other things."
John revealed he wanted his character to be killed off, but he will be written out of the show without meeting a grisly end.
He joked: "I wanted to die in noble fashion in the service of my country and buried with full military honours in Westminster Abbey. This was frowned upon by almost everyone, so I think he will just fade away like old coppers."
And John believes the show can go on without him.
He said: "I can think of 12 actors who could do the part very well. I see it going on for many years. The new lead has to be a sympathetic character. You can't have an abrasive one."
Producer Brian True-May confirmed the show will continue, with an announcement due in October to reveal Chief Inspector Barnaby's replacement.