Former Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh has revealed she was initially cast as a transgender character in the soap as a "joke".
The star played Hayley Cropper in the show for 16 years before the character took an overdose after giving up her struggle with incurable cancer.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph's Stella magazine, Hesmondhalgh said:
She added that she was determined to make the role into something, and felt like she could make the audience fall in love with the first transgender character to be cast in a British soap.
Hayley and Roy got together before it was legal for them to be married, and the actress was having to explain this to the public.
Women would tell her not to worry, she said, adding: "To me, that was it. You make people like this woman - understand her - and you say more than any political speech or lobbying."
Hesmondhalgh appears in the next series of Broadchurch in which she plays a rape victim.