Maureen Lipman knew she had to return to 'Coronation Street' when her late husband gave her a sign from beyond the grave.

Maureen Lipman

Maureen Lipman

The 72-year-old actress will make her debut as Tyrone Dobbs' (Alan Halsall) battleaxe grandmother Evelyn Plummer next week, and while she wasn't sure whether to accept the role at first, she was convinced it was the right thing to do when a light shone on a photograph of her late hubby, former 'Corrie' scriptwriter Jack Rosenthal, who died in 2004 aged 72.

Maureen - who appeared in 'Corrie' as landlady Lilian Spencer in 2002 - said: "I was preparing a one woman show for Edinburgh and I had gone with a new agent after many, many years. We had talked about how I would get back into mainstream TV without having to be a presenter.

"As I was finishing writing the show she called and said how would I feel about going into 'Coronation Street'. For a while I thought I can't do that I've got a partner in London, I've got dogs and grandchildren, do I want to leave London?

"I didn't know what to do but the light over my late husband Jack's picture sometimes comes on for no reason and whilst I was sitting there wondering what to do of course on it came.

"I thought it was a nice way to circle 50 years because I met Jack in 1969 when I came to Manchester to join a theatre group called The Stables and I thought it would be quite a nice way to go back to something that he started his career doing, he started by writing episode 13 of Coronation Street.

"It is a little bit of a sentimental exercise but also it is quite a 'me' part."

Maureen was attracted to the role because her alter-ego is "outspoken" and a "bit embittered", but she faced a hectic schedule after accepting the part.

The 'Pianist' actress added: "She is not frightened to say what she thinks, Evelyn is certainly outspoken, a bit mean, a bit embittered, I'm not saying that I am that but maybe it's not much of a stretch and she is funny, so that redeems her unpleasant qualities to some extent.

"I met with the then-producer Kate Oates and I got a bit of the background story and saw a couple of the first scripts. I felt it would be a bit of a challenge, particularly as I would have to go up there and get a lot of episodes filmed in advance because I was already booked for Edinburgh.

"They hadn't written it with that in mind so it suddenly became a total whirlwind of me on trains going backwards and forwards to Manchester trying to learn not just the one woman show but also a part in 'Coronation Street'."

Maureen's 'Corrie' comeback was confirmed last month, and new series producer Iain MacLeod is delighted she is heading back to Weatherfield.

He said: "I am beyond thrilled that we are introducing such a great new character, played by someone of Maureen's pedigree.

"Evelyn is eye-wateringly withering and will add a fresh dollop of northern humour to the show as she turns Tyrone and Fiz's lives upside down."

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