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She first appeared in Coronation Street in November 1987 as Wendy Farmer, a nurse and prospective lodger for the Duckworths, much to Jack's delight but understandably less so Vera's. In January 1991 she reappeared in the programme as Raquel Wolstenhulme, a dizzy shop worker and a part that was only supposed to last a few weeks but was recognised by the production team as having more mileage. The writer's enthusiasm for the character and Sarah's brilliant interpretation of the scripts soon made her a firm favourite with viewers in the 1990s and her popularity soared. This led to her appearing in more and more episodes and although she has stated numerous times that she is grateful to the Street and enjoyed her time working on it (particularly acting opposite Kevin Kennedy who played screen husband Curly Watts), she found the demands of the role exhausting and disliked the attendant publicity she garnered, being quoted as saying, “It’s a goldfish bowl and I do not want to live my life in the public eye.”
She left the programme in November 1996, appearing just once more in what is generally reckoned to still be her most famous part in January 2000 but has stated several times since that she will never return to the Street. She has subsequently had probably the most successful career of any of the ex-regulars of the programme, appearing in a myriad number of film, stage and television roles, gaining several awards for her acting and was also nominated for a BAFTA award for her television directing debut Viva Las Blackpool in 2004.
She continues to appear regularly on television.