“It was time for me to have adult banter again – I felt ready to come back.
“I’ve been away about a year and a half. Once Kate Oates started as producer I met up with her and said that I would be happy to come back a bit earlier than I’d originally discussed. She asked if I could come back for Christmas and I was more than happy to.
“”I had said I would maybe have a two-year break, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to go anywhere else. I wasn’t keen on the idea of travelling around the country with work. I’d done what I’d wanted to do, which was to spend time with Daisy, and we’d had a great time. I hadn’t really been able to do that before, but she was at a crucial age for schooling, among other things. I needed that break, and it was so rewarding.’
“I was offered a few of the celeb shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, but I didn’t fancy it. My main aim was to spend time with Daisy. You don’t get any awards for being a good parent, but it’s the most important job in the world. While I was away I was very lucky to work on a Sky 1 comedy called Sick Note. I play Chief Superintendent Christine Henchy. She has her hair all rolled up and I had to wear a very austere outfit. She is quite posh, so completely different to Carla, and it was great to work on a comedy.’
“Carla returns with a secret. She’s at a stage where she is starting to think about life and family, and her secret is making her take stock. In the past two years she has acquired a family she didn’t know she had. Prior to that she was a bit of a lone wolf, but suddenly she had these people that she does really care about. This is a different side to her. And because of the secret she is keeping, over the next few months, we will see a more vulnerable Carla who needs her family and friends more than she ever has before.’
“My daughter Daisy is really excited about me coming back to work. She’s ready for it now, as am I. She has had enough of me! I’m sharing a dressing room with Kym [Marsh] and Faye [Brookes], which is lovely – the Connor girls reunited. When I came back they said Kym had asked if I could share with them, which was so nice. So we’re squeezed in together and it’s great fun.’
“It’s nice to get two clear weeks off work at Christmas to rest, eat and relax. Normally Daisy’s dad Adam and I spend it together with Daisy, so that’s what we’ll do – either here [in Manchester], or with family down south. I love Christmas and I love cooking. We’re very traditional – we’ll have turkey and all the trimmings.’
“Getting back into character was easy, like pulling on an old sock – or an old pair of stiletto boots! I got butterflies from excitement about seeing everyone, but not from nerves. It was so lovely, like I’d never been away, and I was happy I made the decision to return. I’ve known for a good few months, so I was pleased to finally be with everyone again.’
“My wardrobe is a bit more relaxed for the Christmas episodes, but it’s still the classic Carla of old. The heels are a touch lower, though. After months of not having to wear them, I didn’t want to be tottering around the cobbles in heels quite as high as I used to!’