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Melanie Hill has quit 'Coronation Street'.
The 60-year-old actress admitted the coronavirus pandemic had made her reassess her life and she has decided to walk away from Weatherfield after six years of playing Cathy Matthews.
She told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: "It’s not been an easy thing to decide. My family has been important but the pandemic has made a lot of people think about the future.
“It has changed a lot of things in my head. You’ve just got to see what’s important to you.
“I absolutely love everybody but it’s made me think about my family a lot and what the priorities are in my life.”
Despite her departure, Melanie is pleased producers have left the door open for her to return in the future.
She said: "'Corrie' has been absolutely fantastic because I could have just disappeared. I won’t say where 'Cathy' goes but I’m a stone’s throw away from Weatherfield.
“My nephew Alex, played by Liam Bairstow, is there and Peter Gunn, who plays Brian Packham, so the door is open for me to come back – and that’s a great compliment. I’m flattered and grateful.
“You never know what’s around the corner there, so let’s see what happens.”
Melanie's exit will air next month as Cathy's romance with Brian comes to an end.
She said: “They’ve written some really nice stuff for Peter and I, and my nephew Alex. It’s pretty emotional. The story shows middle-aged people who really do care about each other but it’s not quite working out. I think it’s really realistic.”
Viewers will watch Melanie leave next month after her relationship with hapless Brian seems to run its course.
John Whiston, head of ITV in the north, admitted bosses are "sad" to see the actress go.
He said “Cathy has been a fantastic Corrie character, whether that’s leaving us in fits of laughter or breaking our hearts as, yet again, Brian doesn’t live up to her romantic expectations.
"We’re sad Melanie is taking time away – she is such a skilled actress that she can deliver sadness and laughter, drama and comedy often in the same scene. We will all miss her hugely.”