Coronation Street’s main man Stuart Blackburn has admitted being left in tears by Hayley Cropper’s emotional exit from the soap.

The character, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh, is set to succumb to pancreatic cancer in scenes to be shown in January – and Blackburn admitted it all got a bit too much for him despite knowing what was going to happen.

“It made me weep,” he told the Daily Star. Even though I’d read two or three drafts of scripts beforehand and was there when the scenes were shot, it was still so upsetting.”

He added that the character’s final episode was ‘beautifully shot and done with respect, love and affection’, saying: “We’ve tried to play it as straight as we can, because this story isn’t about entertainment at all. It’s real, it’s true and it’s painful.”

Meanwhile Blackburn also hailed the new Coronation Street set – saying it would allow for greater scope in action sequences.

“The next time I blow something up the fire engine can come steaming down the street,” he said. “The next time I kill someone the ambulance can also come down at pace.”

However the producer stressed that striking the balance between comedy and drama would continue to remain the secret of the show’s success. 

“You’ve got to have humour, that sense of community and big, attention-seeking stories,” he maintained.