Former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh says she’s still really missing playing Hayley Cropper, who took her own life this January in heartbreaking scenes.

“Yes I’m still mourning Hayley, I miss her terribly,” Julie told Radio 2 this afternoon. “It was a weird thing separating Hayley from myself and watching her go. So I’m still mourning the part of my life that was so joyful.

Corrie is a lovely place to work, the crew and the cast are amazing. My choice to leave was a positive one, and not because I was unhappy. Everyone there was mad at me, in fact, because actors who are new to the show always quoted me as having said to them on day one: ‘I’ll be here for ever, they’ll have to carry me out. I’ll never leave – I love it!

“I had no idea the impact Hayley’s story would have, although I knew Hayley would have to die, because when I said I was going to leave [Coronation Street], it would have been a betrayal of the 16-year relationship between Roy and Hayley not to let Hayley die – it’s the only thing that would ever part them.

“I’m thrilled there’s a big petition going on at the moment to get more funding for pancreatic cancer research. Hayley really started a conversation that needed to be had.”

Julie is about to hit the London stage at the Royal Festival Hall in the play Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster, based on a true story about the murder of a goth teen in Lancashire in 2007, near to where Julie grew up. And she has a busy year ahead of her.

“I have a few television projects lined up through the summer, which I can’t reveal too much about at the moment,” says Julie. “I’m also doing a 10km run for Reuben’s Retreat, a small charity, and I’ll be auctioning off Hayley’s famous red anorak for Meningitis Now, so which this space for that, as it’ll be a big auction to raise money.”