CORONATION Street actress Shobna Gulati has announced she is leaving the soap after eight years playing Sunita Alahan.
The 46-year-old actress joined the ITV soap as shop assistant Sunita in 2001. She took a break from the show in 2005 but returned in 2008.
The Dinner Ladies star will now leave the street next year to focus on her comedy writing.
Gulati said: “I have loved playing Sunita but, having played the role originally from 2001 to 2005 and then returning to Corrie four years ago, I really feel the time has come for me to focus on other aspects of my career.
“I had always told myself I would see my son through school and I have done that. Comedy writing has long been a passion of mine and the commitment to a show like Corrie is huge and doesn't really leave enough time to concentrate on other projects.
“I'd love to be able to combine my writing and acting career in the future.”
Viewers recently saw good girl Sunita turn bad when she cheated on husband Dev with gambler and lothario Karl Munro.
Gulati added: “Playing Sunita has been a fabulous opportunity. I've thoroughly enjoyed her journey and am looking forward with excitement to her dramatic departure. I shall miss her. That said, I have made a host of friends cast and crew - friendships that will stay with me.”
Writers are currently planning a suitably explosive exit for married mother-of-two Sunita.
Coronation Street producer Phil Collinson said: “It's been a pleasure to work closely with Shobna these last few years.
“It's sad to lose such a well-loved and brilliantly played character but it provides an exciting storyline opportunity and the writing team are already looking forward to developing a brilliant exit story for her. Viewers can expect something very memorable. We of course wish Shobna well in everything she does next.”