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Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 16:41 GMT
Raquel's Corrie comeback
Acress Sarah Lancashire pictured in the BBC comedy Bloomin Marvellous
Lancashire originally quit Corrie because of the punishing work schedule
Actress Sarah Lancashire is to make a whirlwind return to Coronation Street - more than three years after quitting as barmaid Raquel Watts.

Dizzy blonde Raquel was last seen in tear-jerking scenes as she left her husband Curly Watts, played by Kevin Kennedy, to start a new life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Curly Watts, played by actor Kevin Kennedy
Curly (Kevin Kennedy) has visited Raquel in Malaysia
But supermarket manager Curly is in for a shock when his errant wife returns briefly, early next year, in a plot line which is being kept strictly under wraps.

"I was delighted to be asked to return to Coronation Street and I am very excited about playing Raquel again," said the 33-year-old.

Her character, Raquel Wolstehulme, made her debut in ITV's veteran soap in 1991 as an assistant at Bettabuys supermarket.

She went on to have an on-off romance with Street Casanova Des Barnes (Phil Middlemiss), before finally settling down with reliable Curly.

More than 22m viewers tuned in to see the two get hitched and Raquel's leaving scenes in 1996 pulled in another bumper audience of 20m.

Coronation Street producer Jane Macnaught said: "Sarah's character is one of the most popular Coronation Street has ever created.

"Her millions of fans will have wondered what has happened to her in the years since she left the show and this special appearance is their chance to find out."

Reg Holdsworth played by actor Ken Morley
After Hours comeback: Reg Holdsworth (actor Ken Morley)
Lancashire has barely taken a break since she left the Street. She most recently starred in the popular ITV drama Where The Heart Is as community nurse, Ruth Goddard and the BBC comedy, Bloomin Marvellous.

Early next year she stars in her first BBC drama, Clocking Off, opposite Our Friends In The North star Christopher Eccleston in a tale about the private lives of bosses and workers in a Manchester textile factory.

. When she left Coronation Street in 1996, mother-of-two Lancashire blamed a punishing work schedule and said she wanted a job rather than a way of life.

Her return to the Street follows the return of other old favourites Bet Lynch, played by Julie Goodyear, and Reg Holdsworth (Ken Morley), who were seen in a recent late-night special.

Their comebacks were part of a run-up to celebrations for the soap's 40th birthday next year.

See also:

24 Nov 99 | Entertainment
BBC goes retro for winter
23 Nov 99 | Entertainment
ITV's festive Frost
26 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Soaps criticised for divorce rates
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