Monday, 20 January 2014

Exclusive! Celebrity Corrie Blogger - Julie Hesmondhalgh

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog January 2013, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Julie Hesmondhalgh has played Hayley Cropper on Coronation Street since January 1998 and has very kindly taken up our challenge for a celebrity to write about their love of Coronation Street.

In return we're donating £25 to Julie's charity of choice which is
the Pancreatic Cancer UK charity.

And now, it's over to Julie..

"I was always a Corrie viewer.  Growing up in '70s Accrington it was a way of life, like fish on Fridays and half day closing on Wednesday, something that just WAS.  Our cat Frisbee used to go wild and climb the curtains whenever the familiar theme music came on. Perhaps some animal instinct told her just how important that theme tune would become to our family…

Later, I moved to London and went to a drama school with a lot of posh people, and Corrie became like a delicacy, a taste of home, a reminder of where I was from.

When I got cast as Hayley Patterson in the winter of 1997 it was a relief.  Any actor born in the north will tell you it is the cross you have to bear, to be asked every day of your life, no matter what theatrical or even cinematic success you may be enjoying, “When are we going to see you on Corrie then?” I swear that’s why Ian McKellan did his time on the cobbles. How fantastic to be able to finally say “Next Wednesday 7.30”!

And here I am, 16 years on, no longer a part of that wonderful institution, but still on screen (for a few weeks at least) and still a Corrie viewer and fan.  It’s always been a joke at work that I really belong at the gates with the fans and the autograph hunters…it’s like THEY LET ME IN!

I was still pinching myself right to the end, not being able to believe my luck, particularly when having the honour of filming with the Legends of the Street (Rita, Dennis, Deirdre, Liz, Betty, Becky, to name a few).

And to have these amazing storylines has been the icing on the cake.  To see attitudes shift towards trans-people over the years as the Croppers’ love story endured, was the highlight of my career, but then the phenomenal response to Hayley’s long and painful goodbye has been one of the things I’m most proud of in my life.

Pancreatic cancer is a horrible disease, with a terrible survival rate that hasn’t improved in years.  A petition calling for better funding had less than 5000 signatures when the storyline began and is now just shy of 20,000. 

I have received hundreds of tweets and letters from people who have lost loved ones, who are fighting cancer themselves or are caring for sick relatives. Rather than switching off they’ve found some sort of comfort in seeing their experiences reflected onscreen.  It has been a privilege to have people share their stories with me.  

The Right to Die debate is a controversial and difficult one, but again I feel so proud to be part of the conversation. And that’s all I am…a part of it all.  The researchers, the storyliners, the producers, directors, the fantastic writers and the crew are the unsung heroes, and without David Neilson as my partner I would not have come this far. He is as brilliant as you think. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to all my friends, and what adventures await my darling Roy, once Hayley has gone. 

That people invested so much in this off beat love story in the first place was miracle enough; to see how much they care now it’s coming to an end means the world.

Thank you for all of it." 

See also:  Hayley Ann Cropper, This is Your Life

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