'Coronation Street' actress Shobna Gulati has announced she is leaving the soap after eight years playing Sunita Alahan.

The 46-year-old actress joined the ITV soap as shop assistant Sunita in 2001. She took a break from the show in 2005 but returned in 2008.

The 'Dinner Ladies' star will now leave the street next year to focus on her comedy writing.

Gulati 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.

shobna gulati

'Coronation Street' actress Shobna Gulati

"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."

Viewers recently saw good girl Sunita turn bad when she cheated on husband Dev with gambler and lothario Karl Munro.

Gulati added: "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."

sunita alahan

Shobna Gulati showed Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall around the set of Coronation Street

Writers are currently planning a suitably explosive exit for married mother-of-two Sunita.

'Coronation Street' producer Phil Collinson said: "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."

Meanwhile, ex-Coronation Street star Georgia Taylor is set for a dramatic return to the cobbles as a totally revamped Toyah Battersby.

The 32-year-old actress will make a comeback next year as part of an overhaul by the soap’s new boss, The Mirror reports.

toyah

Les Battersby (Bruce Jones) Toyah Battersby (Georgia Taylor) and Janice Battersby (Vicky Entwistle) in 1998

Taylor played troubled Toyah for six years before leaving in 2003 after her character experienced a shocking rape and left ­Weatherfield to make a new life in London with her ex-boyfriend.

Her on screen sister Jane Danson, who plays Leanne, said she would love Georgia to reprise her role.

She added: “I’d just like Leanne to have somebody around who would be really on her side 100% of the time.

"From my point of view it would be fantastic.”

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  • 20. Coronation Street 1997: Sally slaps Natalie for revenge on her affair

  • 19. Brookside 1994: Beth and Margaret's lesbian kiss

  • 18. EastEnders 1998: Tiffany is run over and killed

  • 17. Coronation Street 1996: Raquel leaves the Street

  • 16. Emmerdale 2011: Aaron helps Jackson end his life

  • 12. EastEnders 2005: Den is murdered by Chrissie

  • 15. Coronation Street 2006: Mike Baldwin dies

  • 14. EastEnders 2009: Sonia gives birth not knowing she's pregnant

  • 13. Emmerdale 2003: Chris poisons himself and then proceeds to frame Charity

  • 11. Hollyoaks 2008: Niall's explosive revenge on the McQueen family

  • 10. EastEnders 2007: Stacy and Max's affair is revealed

  • 9. Emmerdale 1997: Kim lets Frank die

  • 8. Coronation Street 2003: Tricky Dickie drives the Platts into the canal

  • 7. EastEnders 2009: Danielle dies in Ronnie's arms

  • 6. Brookside 1995: The body under the patio is dug

  • 5. Emmerdale 1993: The plane crash

  • 4. Coronation Street 1998: Deirdre is sent down

  • 3. EastEnders 2001: Kat tells Zoe she's her mum

  • 2. Coronation Street 2010: The tram crash

  • 1. EastEnders 1994: Sharongate