TV Times talks to Beverley Callard about why now’s the time to hang up Liz McDonald’s famous mini-skirts in Coronation Street

What was it like filming your final scenes?

“I was in the Rovers and, at that point, Liz had made the decision to leave. I didn’t want her to be too emotional, but I had become so emotional because it was my last day. I thought ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to be able to do this!’ At one point, the make-up artist, Jane, was shouting at me from behind the set, trying to be harsh with me, to stop me crying.”

Why have you decided to leave?

“My health. [In 2009 Beverley suffered with clinical depression].

You don’t think that anything like that is ever going to happen to you. I’d completely collapsed; my body had shut down. I had 12 general anaesthetics, due to me having ECT [electroconvulsive therapy]. I was back on set three months later, but while I’m doing well, I’m not 100 per cent yet. I’m still on medication and I just need some time for me. It wouldn’t be fair to keep on working and make a commitment that I couldn’t keep. Coronation Street is relentless. For years, I’ve put the job before everything, and it’s the only way to survive in that programme, but I’d put the job before my health and I can’t do that at this moment in time.”

What did you get when you left?

“I got this amazing photo of Liz through the ages from the powers that be, and a gorgeous links bracelet with charms to put on it. And Simon Gregson [who plays son Steve] got me something which was just hilarious. He and his wife Emma, and Jon and I, when we go out, we hit the sambuca; we’re quite notorious for that. The other thing about Simon is that he always makes fun of my feet. I only take a size two and a half/three shoe, and he once said to me they’re not feet, they’re ‘F’, because they don’t warrant an actual word. So his present to me was a bottle of sambuca with Barbie’s shoes tied round the neck!’

Have you kept any of Liz’s famous skirts?

“No, most days, I went to work and wished I was playing Emily Bishop, because at least she’s warm and covered up! Although Jon would sometimes see the outfits and say ‘Can you come home in that? Can you wear that in the bedroom?’

“I don’t, I hasten to add!”

So what is in store for the future?

“I couldn’t stop being an actress. But what I don’t want to do is play Liz under another name. If anything is like Liz, then I’d rather go back and play Liz.”

Do you think you might return one day?

“When I handed in my notice last summer, I thought they’d probably kill me off in the tram crash. They’ve been very good to me; they wanted to leave the door open and wanted Liz to come back at some point and I would never say never, that’s for sure.”