Charles quits Corrie for Red Dwarf
Craig Charles is quitting Coronation Street after a decade to head back into outer space with Red Dwarf, ITV has confirmed.
Liverpudlian Charles, who has played Weatherfield cab company owner Lloyd Mullaney for 10 years, is to reprise his role as Lister in two new series of the cult comedy show on comedy channel Dave.
He is the latest high-profile departure from Corrie's famous cobbles after actress Alison King, who plays Carla Connor, announced she will be taking a break from the soap for "creative reasons" next year.
In a statement, Charles, 50, said: "I have had an absolutely fantastic 10 years on Coronation Street and I will be very sad to leave. Lloyd has become a huge part of my life and I have made some amazing friends with whom I will always keep in touch.
"But I feel I owe it to my colleagues on Red Dwarf to join them in filming the new series and finding out what is in store for Lister and the others. I would love to return to Coronation Street at some point in the future."
The actor and DJ will remain on screen until September, ITV said.
The two new series, 11 and 12, reunite Charles with Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Danny John-Jules (Cat) and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) for the first time since 2012 as the four hapless space explorers.
The now legendary Red Dwarf attracted a cult fanbase and a dedicated following after first airing in 1988 on BBC2.
The first episode featured the technician character Dave Lister on the mining spaceship Red Dwarf after he wakes up to discover that he has been in stasis for three million years and that his fellow crew members have been killed by a radiation leak.
The show went on to attract more than eight million viewers, was broadcast in 25 countries and scooped International Emmy and British Comedy Awards.
The shows will air on Dave in 2016 and 2017 after beginning production in the autumn.
Coronation Street producer Stuart Blackburn said: "Craig has provided us with a decade packed with laughter, tears and great drama. It won't just be Steve who misses Lloyd it will be all of his Corrie friends and colleagues. We wish him all the very best."
King will depart in 2016 after telling producers that she wants "to try her hand at other projects" after nine years on the cast, before returning to the Manchester-based drama.