Simon Gregson is taking an extended break from Coronation Street for personal reasons.

The actor, who plays Steve McDonald, is having a third child with wife Emma and is expected to be off the screen for a number of months.

Simon Gregson in Coronation Street (ITV Pictures)Simon Gregson in Coronation Street (ITV Pictures)

Simon, 40, has played the six-times married pub landlord since 1989 and last year won a gong at the British Soap Awards for best comedy performance.

It is not known when he will return to the show and is a blow to the soap ahead of next week’s live show, which Simon was not scheduled to appear in, but will see the departure of Steve’s best friend Lloyd Mullaney (Craig Charles).

It comes after the announcement that Coronation Street’s current producer, Stuart Blackburn, will leave the role to work on other drama projects within ITV.

He will be replaced by Emmerdale producer Kate Oates, who will join in the new year.

Stuart will remain with ITV and ITV Studios and will continue to produce the soap until he leaves in the new year.

He will remain at the helm for the live episode on Wednesday, which celebrates ITV’s 60th birthday.