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Wednesday, 20 September, 2000, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Natalie to leave the Street
Denise Welch as Natalie in Coronation Street
Welch as Natalie in a court scene earlier this year
Coronation Street actress Denise Welch, who plays Rovers Return landlady Natalie Barnes, will leave the ITV soap at the end of the year.

The 42-year-old is expecting a baby in March, but it is believed she had planned to leave the series anyway before learning of her pregnancy.

Her character will not be killed off - instead, producers at Granada Television are promising an explosive farewell for scheming Natalie after four years in the series.

Welch said: "I am looking forward to being a mum again and spending some time with my baby and am relishing the prospect of new challenges in my career."

'Dramatic exit'

A Granada spokeswoman said the company had known of her decision "for some time".

"This has given us the opportunity to give a dramatic exit for the character of Natalie Barnes for the end of the year," she said.

"The character will not be killed off and the door will be left open for her possible return. We wish Denise well both for the birth of her baby and for her future career."

Natalie's exit will come in December - the month which sees Coronation Street's 40th birthday.

Viewers have seen her steal Kevin Webster, played by Michael Le Vell, from his wife Sally (Sally Whittaker), and her own husband Des Barnes (Philip Middlemiss) was murdered a month after they married last year.

Away from the soap, Welch already has a 10-year-old son, Matthew, with actor husband Tim Healy, best known for his role in Auf Wiedersehn, Pet.

She has also appeared in Soldier, Soldier and Spender.

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See also:

11 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Street's love triangle boost
09 Sep 00 | UK
Former Street star dies
06 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Street star Welch pregnant
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