LOS ANGELES - Katherine Heigl is joining legal drama Suits as a regular cast member for its eighth series. She will play Samantha Wheeler, a new partner in the Pearson Specter Litt law firm who divides opinion.

The former Grey’s Anatomy actress said she “watched Suits from the very beginning” and is an “immense fan” of the cast. It comes after the show’s broadcaster, USA Network, announced Meghan Markle and Patrick J. Adams were leaving. Markle is giving up acting after becoming engaged to Prince Harry, while Adams - who plays Mike Ross, the boyfriend of Markle’s character Rachel Zane - said he was looking forward to watching the show as a fan.

It is Heigl’s first major role since her departure from Grey’s Anatomy, which she left after reportedly clashing with the production team.

She has since appeared in White House drama State of Affairs and thriller Doubt, but neither show has been hugely successful.

She will be joined by another newcomer in Suits - The West Wing’s Dule Hill. He will play Alex Williams, a senior partner at a rival law firm.

Season seven will conclude in March, with filming for the new season starting the following month.