Kym Marsh is set to leave Coronation Street after over a decade in Weatherfield.
The 42-year-old actress and singer signed on to the ITV soap as former pub landlady Michelle Connor 13 years ago in what was supposed to be a cameo role, but has now decided it’s the "right time" for her to move on to something new.
She told The Sun newspaper: "When I was lucky enough to be offered four episodes I could never in my wildest dreams have thought I’d be here 13 years later.
"It’s been an incredibly difficult decision but it feels like the right time for me to explore some other roles."
Kym’s departure from the show was confirmed by Corrie executive producer John Whiston, who said he was "sad" to be losing her from the show, but "totally understands" her desire to head off into new ventures.
He said: "Kym has done a fantastic job. She has brought incredible heart and humanity to some hugely important stories.
"We will be really sad to lose her when she goes but totally understand that, after dedicating herself to the show for so long she now fancies trying something else."
It’s been an incredibly difficult decision but it feels like the right time for me to explore some other roles.
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The former Hear’Say singer will leave the show later this year, but it has been reported bosses won’t kill off her character, meaning the chance for a return has been left open.
A TV insider said: "Kym has loved her time on Corrie and has lifelong friends on set, but she is ready for a new challenge.
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"She loves the role of Michelle and she told bosses she hoped they would agree to keep the door open in the future.
"They have done - so everyone is leaving on great terms.
"The writers will want the character to go out with a bang."
During her time on the show, Kym has been involved in some heavy plots, including suffering a stillbirth, being drugged and kidnapped by her ex-partner Will, and being involved in a car crash with her teenage son Ali.
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