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Accrington actress says role in film about murdered student Sophie Lancaster changed her life

Julie Hesmondhalgh plays Sophie's mother Sylvia in Black Roses, which has been made into a film by the BBC

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Accrington’s favourite actress has spoken of how a new film role set in East Lancashire has ‘completely changed her life’.

Julie Hesmondhalgh, best known for her role as Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, portrays the role of Sylvia Lancaster in the film adaptation of Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster.

Sylvia’s daughter Sophie, from Haslingden, was kicked to death in an attack in Stubbylee Park in Bacup in August 2007 which seriously injured her boyfriend Robert Maltby.

They were attacked because they were part of the goth culture.

The film is based on the stage production of Black Roses in which Sylvia Lancaster, played by award-winning actress Julie, remembers her daughter and the tragic events after the attack.

Julie, originally from Church, said she was approached by Sylvia to play her in the production in Manchester which then went on tour around the UK.

She said: “Sylvia wanted me to play her, and I was still in Coronation Street at the time, and the role completely changed my life.

"I really wanted to do the part justice, and I think they’ve done an amazing job with the film.

“I knew Sophie’s part would be beautiful shot out in the countryside, but Sylvia’s part was speaking to real people in the audience in the theatre production and I was a bit concerned about how it would translate, but I think it’s even more powerful.”

Sylvia was the driving force behind the setting up of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity focusing on creating respect for subcultures in our communities.

Julie said she hoped the film would be used by the foundation as part of their education programme in schools.

She added: “Sylvia is such a force and what she’s done with setting up the foundation and travelling all over the world talking about alternative cultures and how she’s turned her grief into something positive, she’s changed the world.

“I’m a big believer in art being able to change, and when you meet someone like Sylvia you cannot not be changed by that.

“From doing the play Black Roses in schools I think the people we need to be speaking to are the young people who might go out and carry out this sort of attack.”

Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster will air on BBC Four on Sunday, October 11 at 10.30pm.