Who can forget the 1990s era of Coronation Street?
Such a part of British life was the soap then as it is now, then even for those who never called themselves avid viewers still tend to find that they have fond memories or certain names and faces of characters.
Curly and Raquel’s romance warmed our hearts, everyone still did all their shopping at Freshco, and legends like Bet Lynch and Mavis Wilton were still in the cast.
Naturally, many stars came and went over the course of the decade, so thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the big-name exits from the ’90s to see what they’re getting up to these days.
Sarah Lancashire (Raquel Watts)
Sarah Lancashire played one half of Coronation Street’s most famous super-couples. However, upon deciding to leave in 1996, Sarah’s character, Raquel Watts, was faced with the decision between a life with her husband, Curly, and a job in aromatherapy in Kuala Lumpur. To the shock of the nation, she chose the latter, and in the process went about breaking up a marriage that acted as part of the foundation on which the show was built.
Our hearts broke again when Raquel later made a brief return to the cobbles in 2000 to seek a divorce from Curly.
Since leaving the Street, Lancashire has gone on to consolidate her position as a bona-fide national treasure. Indeed, Sarah has become one of Corrie‘s greatest success stories. Highlights include receiving an Olivier Award nomination for a stage role in Betty Blue Eyes in 2011, winning a BAFTA for her part in Last Tango in Halifax in 2014, and the recent widespread acclaim she’s received for playing police sergeant Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley.
Angela Griffin (Fiona Middleton)
Before deciding to leave the show in 1998, Angelia Griffin was a part of Steve McDonald’s litany of girlfriends. However, after an affair with Fiona’s best friend Maxine, Fiona decided to leave Weatherfield, an act which marked the end of Angela Griffin’s time on the cobbles.
Angela is another ex-Street star who’s rarely been out of work. Since departing Weatherfield, she’s enjoyed high-profile roles in the likes of Down To Earth, Holby City, Cutting It, Waterloo Road and Mount Pleasant. She’s also never ruled out a Corrie return, so watch out Steve…
Sherrie Hewson (Maureen Webster)
I think it’s safe to say that I’ve had longer relationships with tea bags than that of Maureen and Fred Elliot’s marriage. Sticking out the marriage for all of about five minutes, maybe, before getting cold feet, Maureen – played by the sensational Sherrie Hewson, soon bounced back by finding solace with Bill Webster and heading off for a new life in Germany with him. Clearly doomed to be unlucky in love, Maureen later returned for a short guest stint in 2006, when it all went sour for her marriage to Bill too.
After she left the cobbles in 1997, you couldn’t keep Sherrie off our screens. She crossed enemy lines, so to speak, on more than one occasion when she landed regular roles in Crossroads and Emmerdale after her exit from Corrie. These days, she’s better known for playing Joyce in Benidorm and regularly appearing as a panellist on Loose Women.
Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch)
Before leaving the soap in 1995, Bet Lynch, played by Julie Goodyear, found herself on the wrong end of the sale of the Rovers Pub when she wasn’t able to pony up the cash required to buy it. The sale marked the end of her time on the cobbles and she left in the back of a tax, riding off into the sunset, as it were. The lure of the iconic pub proved too strong, however, and Goodyear reprised her character for brief returns in 1999, 2002 and finally in 2003.
In 1996, Julie received an MBE in the New Years Honours list. She played various characters in BBC sketch show Revolver in 2001, but has recently become better known for her memorable appearances on reality shows like Celebrity Fit Club, I’m Famous and Frightened, Come Dine With Me and Celebrity Big Brother.
Ken Morley (Reg Holdsworth)
Reg was Weatherfield’s local comic icon but there wasn’t anything funny about the way in which he left the show. In the end, he sadly turned love rat and cheated on his wife Maureen with Yvonne Bannister, and ultimately decided to leave with his new lover when she became pregnant with his child.
His exit in 1995 ended a six year run on the show. But soon after he left the show, Ken was tempted into reprising his role as Reg for some Corrie spinoff videos. Bizarrely, Reg even managed to cross the soap divide by popping up in an Emmerdale video which saw the Dingles head to Venice. Ken’s also appeared in several reality shows, but didn’t do himself any favours when he made unacceptable remarks on Celebrity Big Brother in 2015 and had to be removed from the house.
Gaynor Faye (Judy Mallett)
Poor Judy died in 1999 when her character died hanging up her washing in her own backyard. Not something that happens every day, but it turns out that Judy – who was played by Gaynor Faye – had suffered a pulmonary embolism after being involved in a car accident caused by, who else, local rouge ‘our Terry’.
Gaynor went on to further success in dramas like Playing The Field, Fat Friends and The Chase. She’s now back in the soap world playing no-nonsense Megan Macey in Emmerdale.
Denise Black (Denise Osbourne)
Denise Black, played by Denise Osbourne, left Coronation Street with her new lover and brother-in-law Brian Dunkley, after Ken Barlow discovered that she’d been cheating on him. She later made a return in 2007 and caused tension between the street’s super couple Ken and Deidre. For shame!
After her first Corrie exit, Denise went on to star in various dramas including Queer as Folk. She’s now back in Soapland and causing even more romantic scandal, playing Zak Dingle’s other woman Joanie Wright in Emmerdale. Dingles, Barlows – are no iconic families safe? Are there no golden couples for whom she will not cause trouble?
Philip Middlemiss (Des Barnes)
Philip Middlemiss played Des Barnes but sadly his on-screen alter ego died of a heart attack in 1998 after being attacked by a group of vicious drug dealers, who had been targeting his stepson Tony.
Philip had a regular role on Where The Heart Is between 2000 and 2006 and also dabbled with the wonderfully wacky world of reality TV, when he made an appearance on Come Dine With Me in 2010. In 2012, he made headlines when he was declared bankrupt due to unpaid taxes, but he vowed to get his finances back in order.
Tracy Brabin (Tricia Armstrong)
Tracy Brabin played Tricia Armstrong on Coronation Street from 1994 to 1997. Her character left the street for a much quieter life with decorator Ray Thorpe, deciding that her son Brad should be as far away as possible from his abominable dad Terry Duckworth. Wise move.
Tracy has stayed on our screens with various TV roles but has also worked behind the scenes as a writer for shows like Doctors, Family Affairs, Hollyoaks and Shameless. She also popped up in Emmerdale in 2014 for a handful of episodes as Carole, a new love interest for Ashley.
Tina Hobley (Samantha Failsworth)
Samantha Failsworth played Tina Hobley on the cobbles for two years from 1996 to 1998 and left the show in decidedly soap opera fashion – leaving with a bang after telling Des Barnes that she was pregnant with his child. However, she’d told so many baby lies already by that point that Des’s new partner Natalie was sceptical, but as Samantha said her goodbyes, Des wasn’t so sure…
After Corrie, Failsworth had an even longer-running part from 2001 to 2013, when she played Holby City as Chrissie Williams.
Since leaving Holby City, she appeared on Celebrity Master Chef, but no one would be surprised if she decided to give reality TV a wide berth for the time being after her recent stint on the controversial show The Jump ended in a broken arm and a potential lawsuit.
Thelma Barlow Mavis Wilton)
As the longest-serving member of the Coronation Street on this list, Mavis Wilton played Thelma Barlow for 26 years, from 1971 to 1997. After becoming one of the most recognisable characters on TV for many years – including being the subject of famous impressions by Les Dennis in the 1980s – Mavis bid a fond farewell to the cobbles after deciding to run a guest house in the Lake District after the death of her husband Peter Baldwin.
In real life however, Thelma quit the show in protest at the decision to axe her on-screen husband. And after several attempts on the part of ITV to get her back, she has always declined.
There was definitely life after Weatherfield for Thelma when she moved on to a regular role in Victoria Wood’s sitcom Dinnerladies. She’s since appeared in everything from Where The Heart Is to Doctor Who. Thelma also made a return to the Corrie world in 2014 (sort of) when she narrated Helen Worth tribute documentary Gail & Me for ITV.
Stephen Billington (Greg Kelly)
In 1999 Stephen Billington left the show when his character Greg was arrested and charged with false imprisonment after holding ex-lover Sally Webster and her daughter’s hostage. Maybe she’s forgotten about it by now, but we have to give Sal credit for not using it to get the sympathy vote in her recent political campaign. Who knows though, maybe this anonymous prankster is Greg back for more!
Stephen’s biggest role since Corrie has been the regular part of Danny Lomax on Hollyoaks, a charming schoolteacher who had an affair with John Paul McQueen. And his Hollyoaks exit was equally dramatic when poor old Danny was killed in a car crash.
Tracy Shaw (Maxine Peacock)
It’s been over 15 years since Maxine Peacock left Coronation Street. In 2003, the character was brutally murdered by Gail Platt’s evil husband- Richard Hillman. Remember him?! As kids, we were terrified.
Since leaving Corrie, Shaw has been involved in a number of ITV dramas, however decided to leave the acting industry for quite a few years to concentrate on raising her children and getting over a few personal struggles.
Dawn Acton (teenage Tracy Barlow)
Corrie fans have seen Tracy Barlow grow from a babe in arms to the scheming murderous adult she is now. However, what some people new to the show may not realise is that since Tracy Barlow was first introduced to the show as a new-born back in 1977, she has been played by no less than four different actress. Kate Ford – the current Tracy – has made the role her own but before she stepped into troublesome shoes another actress played the role, from the age of 11, for 11 years, and that actress was Dawn Acton.
She joined the soap in 1988 and saw Tracy through her troubled teen years – and they were pretty turbulent – before leaving the soap in 1999.
Her near-fatal ecstasy overdose led to Deirdre’s toyboy hubby Samir donating a – how you say? – kidney.
But after meeting Robert Preston, Tracy wed and left Weatherfield for London and Dawn was never seen again.
She tried to make a return in 2003 when she auditioned for her old role but she lost out to Kate Ford.
She seems to have given up being an actress for now, and at the age of 39 she has carved out quite a successful career for herself as a DJ