Katherine Kelly rose to fame playing barmaid Becky McDonald in Coronation Street, gaining millions of fans along the way.

Becky was only meant to be in the ITV soap for three months but ended up staying on the cobbles for six years and signed an 'unprecedented' 18-month contract during that time.

Having trained at top drama school RADA and been a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Street was a big change for Katherine and her background could not have been more different to her ex-jailbird character.

She said: "I was playing all these princesses - now I'm Becky."

Becky started as a dislikable character but Katherine soon turned her into a Corrie icon, who became close friends with Roy and Hayley Cropper and was married to Steve McDonald.

After six years on the soap, Katherine decided to leave the cobbles in 2012 to move on to exciting new projects - reports Mirror Online.

At the time she said: "It's been one of the hardest decisions of my life, I love Coronation Street and everyone here.

Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) in Coronation Street
Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) in Coronation Street

"I have had the most blissful five years. I wouldn't change one moment of it - but it feels like the time is right to say goodbye to Becky."

After her Corrie exit, Katherine's first role was Kenny Everett's wife in BBC Four biopic The Best Possible Taste.

In 2013 she got her next major role as socialite Lady Loxley in ITV drama Mr Selfridge, before joining the cast of Happy Valley as Di Jodie Shackleton.

Katherine is an ITV drama staple, appearing in Him, Cheat and in the second series of Liar as Detective Karen Renton.

Away from the acting world, Katherine has some very strong royal connections as she is childhood friends with Mike Tindall, who is married to The Queen's granddaughter Zara Tindall.

The actress went to school in Wakefield with the former England rugby player and they lived in the same village before both moving down south.

Katherine told You magazine in March 2020: "He was amazing at rugby and I was good at drama and we were both really dedicated, so there would be nights where we would be out at a club til two in the morning with everybody, but we’d be on soft drinks because he’d got a match and I’d got rehearsals the next morning."

Actress Katherine Kelly arrives for the Royal wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall
Actress Katherine Kelly arrives for the Royal wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall

Katherine was a guest at Mike and Zara's wedding in July 2011, is godmother to their daughter Lena, while Mike is godfather to Katherine's eldest daughter Orla.

In 2006 Katherine said: "I go out quite a lot with Zara and Mike and they are unbelievable fun.

"Zara is lovely, she's really down to earth and lively, they're made for each other."

As for Katherine's own family life, she was two daughters, Orla and Rose, with her ex-husband Ryan Clark.

Speaking about how they met Katherine told Daily Mail’s YOU Magazine in 2016: "I met Ryan at my best friend’s wedding in Australia. But he was with someone else and I’d only split up with my boyfriend of six years the week before.

"We became good mates first because he was part of my friend’s circle and I’d see him whenever I was visiting her. Then when I went back, he was single and so was I, so it was lovely to get together romantically at last."

The Liverpool Echo sends newsletters on a wide range of topics - including our daily news bulletin, now going out three times a day.

There are others on what's on, politics, court news, Knowsley, Wirral, and arts & culture, as well as both Liverpool FC and Everton FC.

Signing up is free and it only takes a minute for you to get the biggest stories, sent straight to your inbox.

How to sign up for an Echo Email Update

1) Go to our dedicated newsletter page at this link.

2) Put your email in the box where indicated

3) Tick as many boxes as you like, for each newsletter you want.

4) Press Save changes and that's it!

Two years after meeting, Katherine married the digital analyst in a secret ceremony at the Little Church of the West in Las Vegas in 2013.

She said: "It was awesome. I’ll never forget that moment for the rest of my life."

However, in August last year the couple announced they had split up after seven years of marriage.

Katherine Kelly and Ryan Clark
Katherine Kelly and Ryan Clark

A spokesperson for the couple said: "Katherine and Ryan have made the difficult decision to separate.

"They see it as a positive move for both of them and the separation is completely amicable."

The children were their top priority and the former couple remain on good terms and keep in contact so they can co-parent their daughters.

Katherine relocated from their North London home to Barnsley so she could be closer to her family.

Katherine is back on screens this week in drama Innocent.

Innocent featuring Katherine Kelly
Innocent featuring Katherine Kelly

The actress stars as former teacher Sally, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail for the death of a schoolboy she was accused of having an affair with.

Sally has lost everything, her relationship, home, career and marriage, but is given a lifeline when new evidence placing her miles away from the murder scene is uncovered.

She is found 'not guilty' of the crime which destroyed her life, but this means the real killer is still out there.

Hell-bent on reclaiming some of her life, Sally sets out to help the police seek answers and find the real culprit.

*Innocent airs tonight on ITV at 9pm