Michael Le Vell was reduced to tears by the welcome he received at the 'Coronation Street' Christmas party.
The 48-year-old actor - who was suspended from the show while he fought sex assault charges, which he was acquitted of in September - couldn't keep his emotions in check when cast and crew on the show greeted him with cheers and applause as he arrived at the bash at Manchester's Hilton Hotel.
A source said: "He was greeted like a returning hero.
"No-one can imagine the agony he has endured over the past few months.
"Yet throughout he has maintained a quiet determination to clear his name and rebuild his life.
"His friends on the show knew he was innocent all along and really felt for him. But even his closest mates have been impressed at how he has handled it all.
"His return at the party marked the end of a horrible time. Michael had a brilliant night and was bowled over by the support he received.
"When he walked in the room people started clapping and cheering. It was very emotional for him because he has been through so much.
"He had tears in his eyes but once somebody thrust a pint in his hand he calmed down."
Michael - who has received death threats despite the not guilty verdict - admitted in court he was an alcoholic but has told TV bosses he has his drinking under control and was said to be consuming alcohol "only in moderation" at the party.
The source added to the Daily Star newspaper: "He has told bosses the drinking is no longer controlling him and when he comes back to work he will be lean and hungry."
The actor is due to reprise his role as Kevin Webster in February.