Beverley Callard is to leave Coronation Street next year.

The actress, who took a five-month break in 2009 as a result of depression, said she was looking forward to ‘new challenges’.

Bev first joined the series as Liz McDonald 21 years ago although she had a five-year absence until 2003 when she concentrated on theatre and her fitness DVDs. She also starred in BBC Three comedy Two Pints of Lager and a Packet Of Crisps.

Coronation Street bosses said they are working on an ‘exciting’ exit storyline.

She said: “I’ve loved every minute of my second stint on the Street. It’s always a difficult decision to make the leap, but I returned for the 40th so leaving for the 50th feels like perfect timing. I’ll miss everyone on the show, but I’m looking forward to some new challenges and to see what life has to offer beyond Liz’s famous mini skirts.”

The actress is to wed her long-term partner Jon McEwan at the end of this month and has been a regular guest panellist on ITV1 show, Loose Women.

Coronation Street producer Phil Collinson said: “Bev has created an iconic and much-loved character in Liz. She will be greatly missed behind the bar of the Rovers by the viewers of the show. She’s a lovely lady and is such a talented actress. We all wish her well in whatever she does next and we hope to see the character of Liz return some time in the future.

“Plans are now being made for an exciting exit storyline for her departure next year.”

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