I didn’t think of this until the other day but I am wondering if these appearances now from Sheila Mercia could be guest appearances or could I be wrong?
I am just thinking that in terms of episodes she has been missing for a month and a half.
Also the actor playing Leonard was he just doing a guest stint?
I think 30th December 1993 was the last full-time/regular appearance of Sheila Mercier; however, she had reduced her role since 1992 due to arthritis and age, and perhaps even since 1989/90 so I'm not sure when Annie Sugden became a recurring role rather than regular - ironically, she's still alive at 100. In America, she probably would have been billed as a "special guest" or "guest starring". Leonard would have been in for a short-term basis, although we would not have known at the time. Amos became a recurring character, Ronald Magill had originally decided to leave the series because of the changes that were happening so I'm not sure what persuaded him to return in a "guest role".
Autumn 1993 saw the impending shift in tone and introduction/axing of characters, e.g. the departure of Carol, Lorraine, Jayesh and his sister, and long-standing occasional-regular Sergeant Macarthur; and the introduction of Shirley, the Windsors and the awful McAllisters, and Josh, together with the reintroduction of the dreary Elsa.
Lots of ancillary stories building up to the crash without any of us realising at the time what they all meant.
Fast-forwarding to 1994 I cannot fathom why they axed such a popular but under-used character such as Shirley - perhaps further desperation from producers struggling to boost ratings. I can understand why they axed Vic Windsor - apparently the then-producer simply sacked Alun Lewis - no idea why, though.
To 2019 and quite a number of actors seem to be leaving the series, and Coronation Street, yet they want to produce more episodes. I think it's time for ITV to reduce the number so as to maintain quality but until people switch off or complain they'll keep churning out the fodder.
Si-Co, Ben Shatliff and james-2001 gave kudos