Coronation Street’s Jimmi Harkishin, who has played shopkeeper Dev Alahan for 16 years, has announced he needs a break.

The actor is understood to be exhausted from the relentless filming schedule, and plans to go travelling with his daughter before she goes off to university, reports the Mirror newspaper.

Show officials confirmed the actor was planning to take the time off, but insisted he would definitely return after the break.

Although some insiders hinted it could indicate that he could be ready to look for new career challenges.

It will be the first time Jimmi has been absent from screens for a prolonged period since his drugs scandal in 2004, when he was photographed taking what appeared to be cocaine.

At that time, he agreed to seek help in overcoming his “issues”, with a spokesperson saying then: “Both Granada and Jimmi recognise he has some problems that he needs to sort out.”

Paris-born Jimmi, 55, has been a major part of the soap and was recently involved in several key storylines, including his personal campaign to get at the truth about the death of his ex-wife, Sunita, who was murdered a year ago by Karl Munro, played by John Michie.

Last month filming on the soap was interrupted when the actor failed to return from a holiday abroad when expected.

Jimmi was due back on set after travelling to India with his brother – but stayed abroad after his sibling became ill.

It is understood that doctors said his brother was too sick to travel and at risk of spreading the illness to other passengers.

Jimmi did contact Coronation Street bosses to let them know he would be remaining with his brother to look after him.

Confirming Jimmi’s upcoming break, a Coronation Street spokesperson said: “It was agreed way in advance, and other actors who have been on the show a long time have done the same thing from time to time and taken a sabbatical.”