Coronation Street star Melanie Hill quits after seven years as Cathy Matthews

Melanie Hill has quit Coronation Street to spend more time with her family after spending seven years playing Cathy Matthews.

The actress she announced had come to the “emotional” decision after Covid made her consider how much time she was spending away from her family.

Cathy Matthews and husband Brian have become one of Coronation Street’s most beloved pairings for their comedic roles in the iconic soap.

Melanie, who turned 60 this year, said: “It’s not been an easy thing to decide. My family has been important but the pandemic has made a lot of people think about the future.

“It has changed a lot of things in my head. You’ve just got to see what’s important to you.

“I absolutely love everybody but it’s made me think about my family a lot and what the priorities are in my life.”

Melanie to say goodbye to Corrie

Melanie had to rush up to her native Sunderland two weeks ago to look after her 88-year-old mother Sylvia, writes the Mirror.

The actress, who has appeared in Corrie for seven years, now believes the way forward is to take on more roles like her part in BBC One drama The Syndicate, which will allow her to have more time between commitments.

Melanie said: “I’ve been at my mum’s for two weeks and what’s nice is I’ve got the freedom to do that because soaps are pretty relentless. You never stop, really, and you’re always on call.

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“My sister Samantha normally helps look after my mum but she is in hospital with a smashed leg.

Melanie as Cathy on the cobbles
Melanie as Cathy on the cobbles

“It’s lucky that I finished shooting just over two weeks ago so I’m here the whole time. If I was still working on Corrie, I would have been going out of my mind with worry. I cannot stand letting people down – and even if I’ve been ill, I would turn up for work. Now I don’t have to worry as much.

“If you get a drama series, you know your commitment has got an end to it. I’m hoping I can do jobs now that I’ll be able to work around my family.”

Melanie also worries that she’s not spending enough time with her grandchildren Bowie, five, and Daisy May, three, who live in Melbourne, Australia.

But she is thrilled ITV producers have not killed off her character Cathy, leaving the door open for her to return.

Melanie said: “Corrie has been absolutely fantastic because I could have just disappeared. I won’t say where Cathy goes but I’m a stone’s throw away from Weatherfield.

“My nephew Alex, played by Liam Bairstow, is there and Peter Gunn, who plays Brian Packham, so the door is open for me to come back – and that’s a great compliment. I’m flattered and grateful.

“You never know what’s around the corner there, so let’s see what happens.”

Viewers will watch Melanie leave next month after her relationship with hapless Brian seems to run its course.

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John Whiston, head of ITV in the north, said “Cathy has been a fantastic Corrie character, whether that’s leaving us in fits of laughter or breaking our hearts as, yet again, Brian doesn’t live up to her romantic expectations.

Melanie Hill and ex-husband Sean Bean
Melanie Hill and ex-husband Sean Bean

“We’re sad Melanie is taking time away – she is such a skilled actress that she can deliver sadness and laughter, drama and comedy often in the same scene. We will all miss her hugely.”

Melanie said of her closing episodes: “They’ve written some really nice stuff for Peter and I, and my nephew Alex. It’s pretty emotional. The story shows middle-aged people who really do care about each other but it’s not quite working out. I think it’s really realistic.”

Melanie also revealed there were tears on her last day and told how she will miss all her fellow cast members. She said: “It’s the people. Pure and simple.”

Melanie has been a pillar of British television for decades. She found fame playing ditzy Aveline Boswell in the hit 80s comedy Bread alongside Jean Boht, and she also had starring roles in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Playing The Field and The Syndicate.

Melanie, who is married to writer and TV producer Jimmy Daly, has daughters Lorna and Molly from her previous marriage to actor Sean Bean. Sean, 63, just picked up a BAFTA for his role in Jimmy McGovern’s series Time – and Melanie said she would jump at the chance to work with McGovern and Bean on another gritty northern drama.

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Of her relationship with her ex, Melanie said: “We do talk, but it’s always just to do with the children. I thought he was outstanding in Time. He’s a brilliant actor.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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