Former Coronation Street star Julie Hemsondhalgh is set to write a show with the woman who inspired her soap character Hayley Cropper.
Julie, originally from Elmfield Street in Church, played the role on the soap for 16 years, and was helped by research assistant Annie Wallace with the authenticity of the character.
Annie, who was working in computer repairs at the time, was approached by producers of the ITV show after she wrote to the Radio Times and to Julie as a fan of Hayley and joined the show in 2008.
It was Hayley’s on screen death last year that was the catalyst for Wallace’s own coming out as transgender.
Former Moorhead High School pupil Julie, 45, has revealed they will now write a show together for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival about what Hayley meant to both of them.
Julie, who was awarded Hyndburn’s Honorary Freedom of the Borough award earlier this year, said Annie was ‘absolutely essential’ for her portrayal of Hayley, in particular with the huge amount of secrecy surrounding the first introduction of a transgender character on Corrie’s Cobbles.
She said: “When I was researching Hayley I couldn’t ask anyone in the transgender community because it was so top secret.
“I was able to do a bit of reading but this was 1997.
“Annie helped me to believe that I was on the right track. Even if I wasn’t representing every transperson in the country, I was representing her.
“What she did with the writers and the researching was absolutely vital. So much of Hayley was based on Annie – they share the same birthday and has so many of Annie’s characteristics – like her love of rock music. I owe Annie so much.”
Julie also revealed that Hayley was originally only supposed to be a comedy character, alongside Roy, but it was the popularity of the couple with the public, that took everyone, including the soap’s writers, by surprise.
She added: “Corrie had a transgender character before it had a gay one.
“We played it for real and not for laughs. The most amazing thing happened when the public got behind it.
“There was a quick re-write and it turned into a real love story.
“What happened was telly magic and there was real chemistry between Hayley and Roy and me and David (Neilson) always got on so well.”