It has been 22 years since Coronation Street‘s Sally Ann Matthews starred in the show.
The much-loved actress was just 15-years-old when she started playing the role of Jenny Bradley, the daughter of villainous Alan and foster mum Rita Tanner.
But at the time, Sally was struggling with regular teenage pressures as well as being a household name, The Mirror reports.
At time she struggled to cope with the fame, being the odd one out at school with her ‘star status’ and secretly battled bullimia due to a harsh “little pudding” comment from a nasty critic.
Romance was a no go area, with Sally revealing in 2015: “I never even went to a nightclub and snogged somebody because I thought they might sell a story.”
She waved goodbye to the cobbles in 1993 after seven years in the role trying to cope with the fame and growing up – and vowed to “gain respect”.
She said: “When I first left before, I was only 21 and I started when I was 15. I hadn’t been to drama school, I am northern and I had been in a soap. People used to say ‘she’s just a soap actress’ and I would think ‘no, she’s an actress’,” she explained in 2015.
“I thought I would go and do lots of regional theatre to earn my stripes and gain respect as a result. I didn’t do panto and I turned down the offer of doing a record.
“I am not interested in being famous – I wanted to be 70 and still acting and I thought if I did all that, I wouldn’t have a chance.”
She continued: “I would have made some money for a couple of years and that would have been the end of me and I’m not interested in doing that. So I fought against it [a return] for a long time.”
Sally briefly return in 1993, because she was still getting “rebellious teenage roles” and wanted to prove she had grown up as an actress.
She went on to star in The Bill, Doctors, Waterloo Road and as Sandra Briggs in a regular role on Emmerdale – but she couldn’t resist heading back to where it all began.
Sally decided to make a momentous return to Corrie in 2015 – with Jenny starting a relationship with Kevin Webster before trying to kidnap his son Jack.
During her time away, Sally married husband Nick Rhodes and had their two boys, Louise and James.
Explaining her decision to return, the actress said: “I thought, ‘I am never going to get away from it. People still recognise me from it, I am dead proud to have been in it, so I should embrace it’. And that is when I started thinking about it differently.”
After coming back to the cobbles, Sally discovered that she is actually related to one of her former co-stars.
During a special Corrie-themed episode of DNA secrets back in 2018, it was revealed that soap legend Amanda Barrie is her cousin.
Amanda, who played Alma Baldwin, was in Corrie with Sally for four years and the pair remained close friends over the years – but had no idea of the family connection for all that time.
Their jaws dropped to the floor when they found out, with Amanda admitting: “I thought I’d come round the corner and you’d go ‘oh no not you!’.”
Sally pointed out they have the same cheeky sense of humour, both like dancing and always felt close.
Speaking tonight to RadioTimes about her discovery, she said: “Waiting for my Corrie cousin to come around the corner was torture – I was praying it was someone I liked!
“The joy when I saw it was Amanda was overwhelming and I thought, ‘well, of course it is, that all makes sense now.’
“We rarely had scenes together but, because of the way we worked back then, we were all in the rehearsal room together and knew everyone really well. I think we share a naughty, slightly bonkers streak.”
Another secret about Sally is her hidden talent for singing – as fans were stunned by her incredible voice last December.
She unveiled her sensational voice as Jenny cleaned bar table in the Rovers while singing I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan.
Her character is now involved in a dark storyline which is at the centre of this week’s explosive post-watershed episodes.
Jenny is starting to unravel the truth about Sharon and why’s she’s returned to the Cobbles – but the aunt of evil gangster Harvey won’t be intimidated.
Teasing what’s to come, Sally said: “Rita has convinced her that everybody needs a second chance saying ‘Jenny you had one and so did you Gemma’ and Jenny’s gone along with that and then she bumps into Sharon outside the prison and then that’s that.
“And Jenny turns into Weatherfield’s answer to Angela Lansbury pulling pints and that’s the opening titles instead of a typewriter, on the trail.
“Like Jenny from Gogglebox with notes about what Sharon’s done.”
Sharon is aware that Jenny is on to them, so starts asking Toyah about Leanne’s latest visit.
Worried Jenny finds out Sharon hired the van which was used in Sam’s kidnapping and tells Toyah and Imran that she suspects that Sharon was involved.
Imran then rumbles that Sam was taken so that Leanne could be lured out of hiding in a bid to stop her testifying against Harvey in court.
Jenny is determined to let Rita know the truth and bangs on her door – but they are left in danger when Sharon answers.
Coronation Street airs on ITV at 9pm this week.