30 OCTOBER 2007

There's a flurry of activity planned for soap land in the New Year, with a much-loved favourite making a dramatic exit and a pair of familiar faces stepping back into the spotlight.

After over three decades playing Vera Duckworth, one of Coronation Street's most popular characters, actress Liz Dawn is set to bid farewell to the cobbled streets of Weatherfield in early 2008. It's been announced she is to make her departure in a tear-jerker storyline which involves Vera passing away, but details of her demise are being kept strictly under wraps.

"It is going to be very emotional filming Vera's death scenes, but I do think it's the right decision for the character," admitted 68-year-old Liz, who is quitting the show for health reasons. "I have had 33 marvellous years in Coronation Street and will miss everyone very much."

As Corrie loses a key player, Albert Square prepares for a blast from the past. Former EastEnders stars Sid Owen and Patsy Palmer have signed on to reprise their roles as volatile husband and wife team Ricky Butcher and Bianca Jackson - famous for their explosive rows.

"I can't wait to explore what Bianca has been doing with her life," says flame-haired Patsy, who will return to our screens in March when she moves in with on-screen grandmother Pat. And her former sparring partner, who after leaving the soap had a brief pop career and appeared in I'm A Celebrity: Get Me Out Of Here, seems equally enthusiastic about the prospect of returning to his old stomping ground. "I'm over the moon," says Sid.

Photo: ©
Liz Dawn, who has played Corrie character Vera for 33 years, is leaving the soap in the New Year. "I will miss everyone very much," she saidPhoto: © ITV
Photo: ©
Meanwhile, former EastEnders Patsy Palmer and Sid Owen are set to reprise their roles as volatile duo Bianca and Ricky Butcher, returning to Albert Square in early 2008