Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh has decided to leave the soap after 15 years.
The actress made her first appearance as transsexual Hayley Patterson in 1998 and went on to become part of one of the soap’s most enduring partnerships when Hayley married café owner Roy Cropper (David Neilson).
“I’ve had the most wonderful and happy time in the life-changing 15/16 years I’ve been in Corrie, and I owe so much to the show and the special team that make it happen. The decision to hang up Hayley’s red anorak was a tough one, but doing the play at the Royal Exchange last year made me realise that there’s life in the old dog yet (!) and that there are other things I want to try.
“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! I’ll always be the show’s biggest fan.” – Julie Hesmondhalgh
Executive Producer Kieran Roberts, meanwhile, paid tribute to the character’s “warmth” and “decency” and promised that Hayley would have an exit “worthy of one of Coronation Street’s best loved characters.”
Over the years Roy and Hayley have battled prejudice over their relationship, formed strong bonds with younger characters such as Fiz (Jennie McAlpine), Chesney (Sam Aston) and Becky (Katherine Kelly), and suffered heartache after falling foul of one of Tracy Barlow’s (Kate Ford) wicked schemes.