Viewers thrilled to hear Carla Connor's name again in Weatherfield...

Christmas came early for Coronation Street viewers as Carla Connor made an early return to the soap.

The character, played by Alison King, was last seen in Weatherfield in May 2016 and is due back over the festive season.

But she made a return – of sorts – in the first of Monday night’s episodes of the ITV soap, when Michelle (Kym Marsh) was seen chatting to her on the phone.

Fans were delighted to hear her name being mentioned on the Cobbles again.

One tweeted: “Just hearing Michelle speak to Carla excites me. Roll on Carla’s Return.”

“MICHELLES ON THE PHONE TO CARLA I AM SHAKING,” said another excited viewer.

“Oooh cheeky ‘Carla’ mention. Ready for her return… ” posted another.

Alison, 44, who’s played the character for 10 years before she left the show last year. When we talked to Corrie boss Kate Oates, she told us how excited she was about Alison’s return.

Kate told us: “I want to explore a different side to her character; I want to see her tell a different kind of story. I shan’t spoil it by saying how long I’ve got her for, but I’d keep Ali for ever and ever if I could.”

And asked about the drama that lies in store for Carla, Kate revealed that the character’s friendship with Michelle will be put to the test.

“Their friendship is really strong, so anything that challenges it will have to feel very truthful and quite deep,” she said. “I just want to explore the dynamics. It would be a shame to leave everything as is. What’s good about these long standing friendships is when you challenge them and see what could potentially break them.