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Baxendale was initially reluctant to read for the role, as she believed that she would not be able to give a good comic performance. All the other characters came from somebody and I said to Mike [the writer], 'Where do I come from?

Executive producer Andy Harries persuaded her that she had already performed black comedy in Cardiac Arrest, and so would be well-suited to the part of Rachel. ' And he said, 'You were the fantasy girl.' I found it hard to make anything of that.

The two get into a row over whose fault the crash was and he smoothes things over by giving him her phone number, ostensibly in case there is a problem with the insurance.

She writes her number in the muck on his rear windscreen but it later washes off in the rain.

At the beginning of the pilot episode, Rachel is dumped by her boyfriend Simon Atkinson (Stephen Mapes), who has recently taken a job in Hong Kong and does not want to "burden" Rachel with deciding whether to emigrate with him.

Shortly afterwards, her car collides with that of Adam Williams on a supermarket car park.

The character was originally devised as "the fantasy girlfriend", and was constructed as an amalgamation of writer Mike Bullen's female friends.

Both character and actress received mixed reviews from critics throughout the series; Baxendale received the Best Actress award from the Broadcasting Press Guild for her portrayal of Rachel in the pilot and was nominated for a British Comedy Award.

However, television reviewers criticised the character when the series began.

Rachel demonstrates that he does not mean it, and the train departs for London.

Six months later, Rachel returns to Manchester, and moves into Karen and David's spare room.