Julie Hesmondhalgh: ‘Hayley’s final scenes were difficult, but then I took my make-up off and went home’

Coronation Street’s Julie Hesmondhalgh talks Soaplife through Hayley’s final, heart-breaking scenes…

Why does Hayley decide now is the right time to end it?
“There comes a point when she’s said her goodbyes to everyone – although nobody except Roy knows it is the final goodbye. Hayley’s still in quite good spirits and even has her hair done, but then later she gathers everyone in the cafe. The next day is when it happens.”

Can you describe the final scenes to us?
“They’re rather odd as Hayley and Roy become strangely formal with each other. Hayley takes the cocktail of drugs and Roy plays ‘Lark Ascending’ by Vaughan Williams on the CD player. It’s very, very emotional. You don’t actually see her die. You see her take the drink, then we cut to another scene before returning to their bedroom. Roy is with her at the end.”

But he’s not implicated in her death?
“No – Hayley was very keen that he shouldn’t be involved. He’s not involved in making her the lethal drink or giving it to her. This is one of the reasons why she wanted to end things while she still could. For us this has always been first and foremost a love story and everything else, the transgender, the cancer, the right to die, everything is secondary to that. It’s a love story between two people, their journey together, now that love story is coming to an end.”

How did you feel after you’d done those scenes?
“They were very difficult – especially when Anna and Carla came in the room once Hayley had died. That was hard. But I think with storylines like this, you have to keep things in perspective. I mean, at the end of the day, I took my make-up off and went home.”

Do you agree with Hayley about wanting to take her own life?
“I’ve always really understood Hayley’s decision. I wouldn’t want to live in that pain and anguish, or see my family and friends go through it. It’s been very interesting, because like Roy, David Nielson [who plays him] doesn’t agree. So he’s played what he feels and I’ve played what I’ve felt.”

Finally, what will happen to Hayley’s iconic red anorak?
“It has a unique part to play in the days and weeks ahead, but eventually I’m going to auction it off for charity. I can’t believe I’m actually saying goodbye to Hayley, she’s been such a huge part of my life for so long…”

 Click here for more special stories, pictures and video about the life of Hayley Cropper.