Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati, aka Sunita Alahan, has announced she will be leaving the soap next year.
Gulati, who has played Sunita for a total of eight years on and off since 2001, is moving on to pursue other acting opportunities and to dedicate more time to writing comedy.
She will depart Weatherfield at some point in 2013, and Corrie’s writing team are said to be planning a suitably memorable exit for the much-loved character.
In a statement, Shobna 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.
"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."
Coronation Street producer Phil Collinson added: “It's been a pleasure to work closely with Shobna these last few years. Sunita's midlife crisis and the disintegration of the Alahans' marriage has kept Coronation Street viewers on the edge of their seats for the past six months.
“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."