Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh said she was left feeling ‘inconsolable’ when reading the scripts revealing how her character was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The tragic fate of the Accrington-born actress’ character Hayley Cropper was screened to viewers in an episode earlier this week.
The harrowing turn of events come as Julie is set to leave the show later this year after 15 years in the role.
The former Moorhead High School pupil said she felt ‘honoured’ to be given the storyline because it is something that affects everybody.
She said: “This is a chance to go through something that has touched pretty much everybody in one way or another.
“There are moments where it is heartbreaking, but it’s not all weepy, for the most part it’s just Roy and Hayley dealing with it in a very ‘Roy and Hayley way.”
Producers of the show say over the next few months viewers will follow the Croppers on their journey as they come to terms with the devastating news of the potentially fatal stage two pancreatic cancer. Julie, 43, said: “I do remember reading the scripts for the first time and being inconsolable. Every single page I was heartbroken because it’s a really strange thing.
“She’s not me, but she’s a massive part of me.
“She’s been a huge part of my life for over 15 years.
“I knew that ultimately I would have to be written out of the show because I’m leaving, and I knew that the story would have to honour Hayley and Roy’s relationship.
“Because of the unique nature of their bond, she couldn’t just up and leave.”
Julie joined the show in 1998 as transsexual Hayley Patterson and her bid to marry cafe owner Roy Cropper gained critical acclaim and plaudits from the transgender community.
The Maundy Relief patron announced in January she was leaving the show to explore new projects - inspired by her recent work on Black Roses The Killing of Sophie Lancaster - at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester.