The award-winning actress played barmaid Raquel Watts in the ITV soap for six years until 1996 and has gone on to star in Last Tango In Halifax, Where The Heart Is, Clocking Off and Rose And Maloney.
She compared leaving Coronation Street to jumping off a bridge at midnight: “And it was, because I didn’t know how it was going to affect me.”
But she feels like she lost the soap tag. “I’ve escaped it – it’s everyone else who hasn’t! It was fun and I loved the character, but I think that you have to literally move on from something if you intend to have a career beyond it.”
The 49-year-old mother-of-three doesn’t think of herself as ambitious, however.
“Well, I’m ambitious to provide for my family, and if that means I work, I work,” she said. “Acting’s only part of my life. I’m a mum and wife and daughter. But I’m very grateful that I’m still continuing to do a career I love.”
The second series of Last Tango In Halifax begins on BBC One on Tuesday, November 19.