Coronation Street star Barbara Knox has promised that she will never retire from playing Rita Sullivan – suggesting that retirement is a dirty word.

The 78-year-old actress has played the role of Rita Sullivan for 40 years – and is set to wed sweetheart Dennis Tanner in dramatic style in scenes to be screened over the jubilee weekend.

She said, “Retire? What a filthy word!. I say to everyone I know, ‘Don’t retire. Keep working. It’s so good for you!’

“But it is fascinating to think a lifetime has gone by in one job – and a wonderful job with lots of highs and lows, tears and what have you. But what a fabulous gift I think I’ve been given over the years. The stories I’ve had have been wonderful.”

Barbara added that the wedding, which will air as part of the soap’s Diamond Jubilee special, was “unbelievable”.

“I just look at the scripts and I think I never in my wildest dreams thought this would happen,” she said. “It’s a great honour.

“There’s lots of terrific people in the Street and to be such a big part of the Queen’s Jubilee in our street, it’s overwhelming! It’s lovely.”

However Barbara admitted that she won’t be tuning in to watch the wedding – as she cannot bear to see herself on screen.

“This is my home,” she said. “I’m very comfortable here. It’s absolutely wonderful, but on screen I’m not too happy to watch myself at all.

“I think everybody is wonderful and I sit there thinking: ‘Aren’t they good?’ I can’t watch me. Really truly.”