Coronation Street cast: New, leaving and returning characters

CORONATION Street bosses have confirmed they've killed off fan-favourite Norris Cole after 27 years.

With some huge storylines lined up for the rest of 2021, here’s everything you need to know about the ITV soap’s latest comings and goings…

Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) – leaving

Coronation Street confirmed it had killed off fan-favourite Norris Cole following actor Malcolm Hebden’s exit from the show after 27 years. 

The Corrie cast, including Norris’ former on-screen wife Mary Taylor (Patti Clare), Ken Barlow (Bill Roache) and Claudia Colby (Rula Lenska), were spotted filming funeral scenes last month, leading to speculation that Norris had been killed off away from screen.

Soap bosses have now confirmed that Norris will die this week after suffering a stroke. 

In January Corrie star Malcolm revealed he had quietly retired from the soap after 27 years in the role of busybody Norris. 

The 81-year-old actor called it a day following a near fatal heart attack in 2017.

Norris left for care home Stillwaters in June 2019 and made the odd cameo before retiring.

He told The Sun at the time: “I absolutely adored playing Norris and I was pleased to be able to return briefly after my operation.

“It took a great deal of courage to make the decision to retire.

“But I had come to realise that although the mind was willing the body was not so much.”

Corrie boss Ian MacLeod added: “Norris became an all-time great character, whose lemon-lipped barbs will be remembered forever.

“But, in his brilliant double acts with Emily, Rita and more recently Mary, Malcolm has left us with countless fantastic memories.”

Grace Vickers (Kate Spencer) – leaving

Grace Vickers is set to leave the cobbles later this year after her blackmail plot takes a disastrous turn. 

Actress Kate Spencer, who plays Grace in the ITV soap, will be on screen until the end of the year as her exit plot plays out.

Grace is demanding a house from Aggie and Ed Bailey after being rejected by their son Michael and has threatened to take away their granddaughter Glory if they don’t comply. 

A source said: "Grace and Michael's relationship will come to an explosive head resulting in her leaving the street..

"Their relationship has been turbulent to say the least but it's about to go up a notch once more in the Autumn. It's going to be one of the major storylines on the show.

"The door has been left open for Grace to return to the street at a later date should producers decide they want her to return."

Sophie Webster (Brooke Vincent) – returning

Sophie set off travelling in the summer of 2019 to facilitate actress Brooke’s real-life maternity leave. 

After welcoming her baby boy into the world in October 2019, Brooke is expected to return to the cobbles one day but there’s no official word yet.

Brooke’s on-screen mother Sally Dynevor recently revealed she would love to see Brooke return as Sophie and Helen Flanagan as Rosie, who is also taking some time off with her children.

"There was a point where Brooke came over with Mexx and Helen came over with her two little girls and we had lunch together," Sally recently told Inside Soap.

She added: "I said to them, 'I can't believe you're in my house with your children when I've known you since you were babies!' Every time I speak to Helen and Brooke I say, 'have you told Corrie you would like to come back yet?'

In March 2020, it was revealed that Coronation Street bosses had given Brooke “as long as she needs” to decide whether or not she wants to return to the cobbles.

Following Sophie’s departure in 2019, her on and off girlfriend Paul Cunliffe had a shock affair with Tracy Barlow, who’s married to Steve McDonald.

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Dylan Wilson (Liam McCheyne) – returning

Sean’s son Dylan returned to the cobbles for a guest stint in late 2020.

He later appeared on the cobbles again when he broke the news to his dad Sean that he was being bullied in school. 

Antony Cotton – who plays Sean in the ITV soap – recently told the media that Dylan would soon be returning to Weatherfield on a permanent basis. 

He said: "He's going to come back full-time. We'll see it in stages, as Sean gets used to Dylan being around.

"I can't wait for it, as it gives me a totally different dynamic. I'm hoping we're going to become a little duo and it is completely unique."

Curtis Delamere (Sam Retford) – joined

Ackley Bridge star Sam Retford has joined the cast of Coronation Street.

The actor, best known to audiences as Ackley’s Corey Wilson, made his first appearance as Emma Brooker’s new love interest Curtis Dalemere earlier this year.

The pair’s romance was hardly smooth sailing as Curtis dumped Emma to avoid telling her about his life-threatening condition. 

When Emma’s dad Steve got involved, Curtis eventually came clean and revealed he had a heart condition that could end his life at any point.

Stefan Brent (Paul Opacic) – joined

Former Emmerdale and Hollyoaks star Paul Opacic joined Corrie as bad boy Corey's rich businessman father back in April 2021.

Paul, who is best known for playing Kim Tate’s husband Steve Marchant in Emmerdale from 1993 to 1999, quickly locked horns with Dev Alahan as abusive Corey convinced his ex Asha Alahan to give him another chance and move in with him.

More recently, Stefan has ruffled a number of feathers by bribing witnesses during Seb Franklin's murder trial – and securing the freedom of his killer son Corey.

Helen Worth (Gail Platt) – left

Gail Platt swapped the cobbles for Thailand earlier this year after suffering a heart attack. 

Gail – who is played by Helen Worth – decided to jet off to sunnier climes for a relaxing extended break.

Gail is one of the show’s longest-running characters after first setting foot on the cobbles in 1974.

Actress Helen has remained silent over her character’s exit, which hints at her departure from the soap, but she is expected to remain off-screen while her character is absent from the storyline. 

The actress recently told the Daily Star: “You just keep your fingers crossed and hope they want the character to continue. In real life, there are older people. So they have to be represented on the show.

"In fact, they are a very important part of our programme. So I’ve no idea how long I’ll be on the show.”

Sharon Gaskell (Tracie Bennett) – left

Corrie villain Sharon Bentley departed from the cobbles in June 2021.

Actress Tracie Bennett had reprised her role as Rita Tanner’s former foster daughter back in April after 22 years away from the cobbles.

Sharon set out on a mission to help her nephew Harvey bring Leanne Battersby out of hiding and force her to change her statement so the case against the drug dealer would collapse. 

In a shock twist in court, however, Sharon turned on Harvey and gave evidence against her nephew.

Sharon then departed Weatherfield with a smile on her face, knowing a fresh start as the leader of a drug dealing empire awaited her. 

Speaking about Sharon's return back in April, Ian explained: “It’s extremely exciting to see someone of Tracie’s calibre revisit a role so rich in history and with such complicated psychology.

“Sharon returns across some badly burned bridges to reconnect with Rita – but very quickly her presence becomes destabilising and extremely dangerous, in ways that I hope the viewers won’t see coming.

“The big question is: what has her life become since she was last on the Street?

“The answer to that question will drive a massive story for us, which runs into the summer and beyond,” he added.

Speaking about her return, actress Tracie said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to the cobbles. It is a dream come true for me.

“I had such an amazing time there and I am looking forward to working with Barbara again and getting my teeth into the storylines they have planned for Sharon.

“I was first approached about coming back about 18 months ago, I was keen and excited to see what was in store but my work schedule and then the pandemic has meant that it has taken until now for it all to come together.

“I am so pleased that I can finally tell everyone as it has been hard trying to keep the secret,” the actress explained.

Cherylee Houston (Izzy Armstrong)- returned

Izzy Armstrong – played by Cherylee Houston – returned to the soap earlier this month (July 2021) for a special one-off appearance after 10 months away from the soap. 

The actress has connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and has been shielding at home for the entire pandemic.

However, Cherylee was able to reprise her role on the soap by filming scenes in her Manchester home with her real-life partner actor Toby Hadoke, who joined Corrie as Izzy’s concerned neighbour Fergus.

Cherylee said of this storyline: "I have been unbelievably fortunate that my employers enabled me to continue shielding after the official shielding guidance ended in March. 

“I've been so supported by ITV, but I'm aware that many of my disabled peers who were previously shielding haven't had that safety and have been forced to make the decision to earn money to survive while facing the real fear of death or serious illness through Covid.

"There's 14.1 million people in the UK, that's 1 in 5 of us. We are employees, carers, front line workers, volunteers and a key part of every community. 

“The pandemic has had an incredible impact on many disabled people due to social isolation, certain services being unavailable and a lack of understanding.

"There's currently 4.4 million disabled workers in the UK. We experience almost double the unemployment statistics compared to our non disabled peers (mostly due to prejudice or lack of reasonable adjustments)."

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