CORONATION Street actress Tina O'Brien has certainly had her fair share of juicy storylines playing Sarah Louise Platt.

She's been a gymslip mum, a victim of chatroom grooming, left for dead in a joyriding car crash and almost killed by her step-dad serial killer Richard Hillman - and all before she reached the age of 16!

More recently we've seen her mature into a fully-fledge sex symbol, appearing in FHM's 100 sexiest women two years running.

Now eight years after she joined, Tina is set to leave the cobbles of Weatherfield looking for new acting challenges.

She told of her sadness at leaving behind old friends, and revealed how her first role after the street - Manchester's panto production of Cinderella - is filling her with excitement.

TINA O'Brien is enjoying a rare day off before filming her final scenes in Coronation Street - the soap that launched her career - and she's full of a cold.

"I'm sorry I sound so bunged up," she says. "I've had a really sore throat and a runny nose."

But after eight years playing young mum Sarah Louise Platt in Britain's favourite soap, Tina knows the show must go on.

"When you're in a soap you can't really phone in sick because they have to switch the filming schedules around and it ends up that around 30 people have to change their plans because of you.

"So I've been dragging myself out of bed and dosing myself up.

"Everyone's been really nice to me and given me loads of sympathy so they've actually been some of my nicest days."

The "lovely" cast and crew of Corrie are what Tina says she'll miss most when she leaves in January.

"I've got a week of filming left and already I'm feeling really sad.

"I think this job will be one of those things where you don't realise how good something is until it's gone," says Tina.

"But I'm kind of glad the end is coming up because it's been coming a while and now I feel prepared for it. When I first decided to go I kept thinking Have I made a mistake?' But now I know I really am ready to go. I already know I'm going to cry loads on my last day, though."

It'll be a wrench saying goodbye to Amy and Emily Walton, the twins who play Tina's on-screen daughter Bethany.

"Oh, I'm going to miss the twins so so much," she groans.

"I've known them since they were three months old and so I'm close to them.

"My next job is playing Cinderella in pantomime at Manchester Opera House over Christmas and the twins are coming to see the show with their school. I've already told them they have to come to the stage door afterwards with all their mates to meet Cinderella."

Having joined the soap aged 16 Tina admits it was sometimes hard having to grow up on camera.

"I have gone through my hardest years on TV," she says.

Like many teenagers there was a time when she struggled with her weight.

"When I left school and stopped doing dance classes I put on weight and felt awkward in myself," she admits. "That was hard for a year or so and I even suffered panic attacks. But I believe in the old saying what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

"I'm not complaining or saying I had a terrible time. I've been incredibly lucky, working with brilliant talented people, but there were times when being well-known is quite hard."

As character Sarah Louise grew up the show's producers seemed to realise they had an attractive young woman on their hands.

"When Sarah Louise started being seen as this sex symbol it made me laugh," says Tina. "It started when she tried to seduce Jason and it was all a bit strange at first because the character had never been like that before."

Soon Tina became a hit with the lads' mag generation.

"I did do the whole posing in a bikini for men's magazines' and I'm not ashamed of that but I probably wouldn't do it now - more because I've already done it once and want to try new things than anything else," says Tina.

"It'll be great to look back at when I'm 90 and say I used to look like that'."

Tina has no fixed plans for her next big job - for now she's just looking forward to getting her teeth stuck into her role of Cinderella, alongside Johnny Briggs, Mike Toolan and Bernie Nolan.

"It's my first panto role and I'm really really excited. I'm a real Christmas person."

  • See Tina O'Brien in the Manchester Opera House production of Cinderella from December 8 to January 6. Call box office on 0870 401 9000.