Coronation Street fans need to brace themselves for an extreme blast from the past as Curly Watts is set to return to the soap.
The iconic character was last seen on the cobbles all the way back in 2003 – but soap bosses are said to be close to firming up a deal with 57-year-old Kevin Kennedy to reprise the character.
Kevin played Curly for 20 years before being axed from the show – however he did make a return to the Coronation Street universe for the straight to DVD spin-off special, Coronation Street: A Knights Tale.
And now his return to the soap seems almost guaranteed as a show source has revealed both he and Helen Flanagan’s Rosie Webster are set to return to beef up the cast after a string of resignations (which are said to be blamed on long shoot days).
“Things are pretty bleak behind the scenes. Bosses want to bring joy back, on and off screen. The plan is to bring back one or two high-profile stalwarts who are a hit with older viewers,” a soap source told The Sun.
“Kevin has previously said he wants to come back, so it’s about agreeing terms and finding the right story,” they said – giving hope that Curly will make his comeback.
“They’re keen for Helen to sign after maternity leave. But producers will not budge on the gruelling schedule,” the source continued – adding that the more controversial storylines of recent months on Corrie will continue.
Coronation Street has been in crisis in recent weeks after seven cast members quit the long-running ITV show.
Challenging working hours, pay disparity and a ban on boosting earnings through social media endorsements have all been blamed for the mass exodus.
Kym Marsh, who plays Michelle Connor, Faye Brookes (Kate Connor), Tristan Gemmill (Robert Preston) and Katie McGlynn (Sinead Tinker) are among the stars walking away from the show.
While others set to quit are Bhavna Limbachia (Rana Habeeb) has already gone and also breaking ties with the show are Lucy Fallon (Bethany Platt) and Underworld machinist Gina Seddon (Connie Hyde).
Meanwhile, younger members of the cast, who are reportedly on a lot less money than stalwarts such as Bill Roache, are unhappy they can’t seek money-making opportunities elsewhere.
One source said: “The whole cast are miserable. They believe bosses are being hypocritical by forcing them to endorse sponsors like Costa and Co-Op on set but not allowing them to endorse anything on personal social media. They find the product placements embarrassing.”
It all comes as Corrie legend Beverly Callard, 62, who has played Liz McDonald for 30 years, says the soap isn’t what it used to be thanks to 12-hour days. She says it used to be more fun when they had time to socialise.
A Corrie source played down reports of a crisis, insisting: “It’s business as usual at Corrie. Cast come and go – it’s the nature of soaps.”
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