Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh is to leave Coronation Street at the end of her current contract after 15 years playing Hayley Cropper.
Julie will remain with the show until the end of 2013 and the producer and team are now working on storylines to ensure a dramatic exit plot for such an iconic character.
Julie made the decision to leave to explore new projects - inspired by her recent work on Black Roses The Killing of Sophie Lancaster - at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester.
Julie said: "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 & 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 & 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."
Executive Producer Kieran Roberts said: “Who doesn't love Hayley Cropper? The character's warmth and decency, spiced with a great sense of fun and adventure, have put her at the heart of Coronation Street. The enduring popularity of and affection for Hayley - and of course her wonderful partnership with Roy - has so much to do with the brilliant way Julie Hesmondhalgh has brought the character to life on screen for the past fifteen years. We'll be sorry to say farewell to Hayley - and to Julie - but we're planning a screen exit worthy of a one of Coronation Street's best-loved characters.”
Julie joined the show in 1998 as transexual Hayley Patterson and quickly won the hearts of the nation and of cafe owner Roy Cropper played by David Neilson. Their touching romance and bid to marry was one of the show’s most groundbreaking stories, gaining critical acclaim and plaudits from the transgender community.
Hayley and Roy have fast become one of the programme’s best loved couples, and their relationships with characters such as Fiz, Chesney and Becky placed them at the heart of the street. Hayley is a well loved member of the Underworld workforce and struck up an unlikely friendship with Norris Cole through their shared love of ballroom dancing.
The Croppers also found themselves caught in evil Tracy Barlow’s web of deceit when she spiked Roy Cropper’s drink and then claimed he had fathered her child in order to fleece them of their savings.
More recently Hayley has had to deal with the arrival of mother-in-law Sylvia played by Stephanie Cole, and again the issue of Hayley’s sex change was explored in Sylvia’s reaction to the discovery of her daughter-in-law’s background.
More features on the Coronation Street website
Follow Hayley's story in videos, pictures and interviews on her character page.
See all the excitment to come in weekly Picture Previews.
Watch episode spoilers of all the unfolding drama.
National Television Awards
Natalie Gumede (Kirsty), Alan Halsall (Tyrone), and Michelle Keegan (Tina), along with the show itself are nominated in the National Television Awards 2013 - you can vote for all the nominations here.
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