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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Lancashire unlocks 'handcuffs' deal
Sarah Lancashire
Lancashire will still work for ITV on a non-exclusive basis
Former Coronation Street star Sarah Lancashire has ended her "golden handcuffs" deal with ITV.

Lancashire's 1.3m-a-year contract runs out this autumn and will not be renewed.

Her two-year deal with ITV, which she signed in July 2000, was thought to have made her the highest paid actress on British television.

An ITV spokeswoman denied the network was abandoning exclusive deals with big name stars after seeing some of their dramas flop.

"ITV would have loved to have kept her," she said.

High-profile

"She has been a huge star for us and is a real favourite with ITV viewers. Sarah has shown true versatility for us across a range of major roles.

Coronation Street
Lancashire left Coronation Street in 1996
"It is entirely her decision to spread her wings and work on other projects though she will still work for us on a non-exclusive basis."

Her first role under the deal was in The Glass - a six-part drama about a double-glazing firm - alongside the late John Thaw.

She has since starred in a number of high-profile roles, the most recent of which have not been critically acclaimed.

Her latest show, psychological drama The Cry, was beaten in the ratings by BBC One's Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

Cut back

Other shows, however, pulled in huge audiences. Seeing Red scored an average of 12.3 million while My Fragile Heart averaged around 9.6 million viewers.

Lancashire said last year she had been planning to cut back on TV work to concentrate on stage and film.

She also said to want to spend more time with her family after marrying BBC television executive Peter Salmon last year.

Actor Robson Green also recently ended his golden handcuffs deal with ITV, instead signing a non-exclusive contract which allows him to work with other channels.

ITV now has two stars who remain on exclusive deals - former EastEnders stars Ross Kemp and Martin Kemp.

See also:

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