Realistically, it was only a matter of time before Michelle Keegan kicked Corrie into touch so the news that she will leave the soap next year is only surprising in that her goodbye will be so protracted.
News came over the weekend that Michelle is to leave the soap, with a her releasing a statement saying: "It was such a difficult decision to leave, but I felt it was the right time for me to make the next step in my career. I will miss Tina and will always be grateful to ITV and Coronation Street for giving me such an amazing role to play for my first ever acting job.
"Most of all I will miss the amazing people who work on the show, my acting colleagues, cast, crew, producers and writing team. I have met people who I know will be friends for life. I am very excited about what the coming months hold for Tina and what the future has in store for me."
Tina will be onscreen until well into 2014.
Michelle joined the soap at the age of 20 in 2007 after only her second ever acting audition. Since then she has been repeatedly voted the sexiest female in soap and become a red top and lads mag target. That she would leave Corrie at some point was never in doubt, but it is refreshing to see that she has asked to be allowed a window to return, saying: "I'd love them to leave the role open for me. It's time to move on but I love the character and definitely wouldn't rule out coming back."
This is an unusually shrewd move for someone with such a high profile leaving a soap. Usually, the departee is very unrepentant in vowing to take their career onward and upward and show little regard for returning to the show. With such a small CV behind her, though, and no evidence that she can actually cut it in another genre, Michelle is being much more pragmatic than other young actresses we could name who have left Corrie in recent years.
Part of her decision to leave may be down to the direction her character Tina McIntyre has gone in the past couple of years. We've regularly pointed out that Tina has been very given very little of interest to do beyond appearing a bit of an over-sensible misery and her current surrogacy plot is proving to be as protracted and dull expected. Maybe better thought-through plots for Tina may have convinced Michelle to stay (something the producers clearly wanted, as they repeatedly made her attractive contract proposals) or maybe she genuinely just wants to move on and try new things.
Either way, we hope she will return at some point as Tina was a breath of fresh air when she joined the soap and, given the right storylines, she could prove to be a great character in the future.