Illegally married, arrested for kidnap and threatened by a killer: playing Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper has hardly been without its highs and lows for Glossop actress Julie Hesmondhalgh.
But this week, the soapstar faced her most difficult storyline to date and told the Advertiser of her sadness of leaving the show after 15 years as the nation’s favourite transsexual.
The 43-year-old announced in January she intended to hang up her famous red anorak in order to explore new projects, inspired by her theatre work last year.
Fans of the Weatherfield waitress were left distraught on Monday when Hayley was diagnosed with the shocking news she had stage two pancreatic cancer.
She said: “I did feel really honoured to be given the opportunity to play this storyline because it is something that affects everybody.
“There are moments where it is heart breaking, but it’s not all weepy, for the most part it’s just Roy and Hayley dealing with it in a very ‘Roy and Hayley’ way.
“You have to have a word with yourself because when you play a storyline like this it can be quite hard to shake off, but you can. I remember one night walking up the stairs slightly stooped and I had to remind myself that I wasn’t ill.
“I do remember reading the scripts for the first time and being inconsolable. She’s not me, but she’s a massive part of me. She’s been a huge part of my life for over 15 years.”
Julie added: “Whatever happens next I’ll always be proudest of lovely Mrs Cropper and in particular what we achieved in changing attitudes to transgender and in portraying possibly the most loving, faithful and steadfast couple in soap history!”
Lancashire-born Julie lives in Glossopdale, with her husband, writer Ian Kershaw, and her two daughters, aged six and nine.