Wednesday, 5 February 2014
Exclusive: "Corrie's Hayley changed my life"
(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog January 2013, reposted to this blog with permission.)
Here at the Coronation Street Blog, we are privileged to bring you an exclusive article from the real-life lady who helped the Corrie writers with the character of Hayley Cropper.
Working with Press for Change, the lobbying and educational organisation, which campaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all transsexual people in the UK, she was the advisor to Coronation Street for 18 months from April 1998, three months after Hayley first appeared on screen.
We are absolutely honoured to hear from the woman whose help and advice has propelled Hayley to become one of Corrie’s best loved female characters. After 16 years of Hayley on our screens, the real-life transsexual advisor to Coronation Street on Hayley's character, gives us an insight into how it feels to say goodbye to Hayley Cropper...
"It's been incredibly hard saying goodbye to lovely Hayley Cropper, but all good things come to an end, apparently. When Julie told me last year that she was leaving Corrie, I felt excited for her, and for her future career... but so sad that Hayley would inevitably have to die.
To me, after 16 years, Hayley had become like a younger sister; genetically linked but off having a life of her own, created and nurtured by the fabulous writers at Coronation Street, and played with such enthusiasm and heart by the lovely Julie Hesmondhalgh.
Although my little part in Hayley's life only lasted about 18 months, I never quite cut the cord, as it were, emotionally. I felt Hayley's highs and lows along with the nation, and was always hoping for the best for her. When she got married the first time, in 1999, I was drying my tears in the Corrie studio. In 2010, I did the same at Tatton Hall, and now here I am now sobbing my heart out, watching her dwindle and die, pale and jaundiced.
Julie's commitment to the role meant that she lost a lot of weight towards the end, and by gum it showed. This has not been a sugar-coated view of death, but a hard painful road of increasing pain and deterioration as pancreatic cancer took her away, bit by bit, with alarming speed. This story has gripped the nation, and put Corrie top of the ratings for months now, and is something that all concerned can be justly proud of. The worst parts for me were the little things... Seeing Roy cry for the first time at the hospital as he could only say two words to Fiz had me howling; Roy's face at his birthday party in the Rovers; Hayley's brave front crumbling as she said "I don't want to leave life"; Roy picking her up in the cafe when she broke down; and then the final moments, gulping down the bitter pharmaceutical cocktail that would end her life.... and then passing away in Roy’s arms.
Hayley Patterson (as was) changed my life. Through an introduction to the story team via Press for Change’s Christine Burns, my eyes were opened to a wider world, of TV drama, and the big city on my occasional trips to Granada Studios. A year or so later, I would move permanently to Manchester, my adopted home town, where I live to this day. I found my first real love at the same time, and although we split 18 months later, I felt I was growing up, just as Hayley was onscreen.
Sadly I have, to date, not found "my Roy"; the one thing Hayley had over me.... a partner to love her, unconditionally and completely.
But this was never just about Hayley alone; the past 16 years have been about Roy-and-Hayley. The couple so in love, and so perfect together, that the nation took them to their hearts almost from day one. The onscreen partnership of Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson won awards in 1999 and 2004, and they became the moral centre of the Street. Never conventional, always believable. David's performances over the years, both tender and comic (especially over the last 12 months), have never been less than gold standard. I look forward to seeing Roy try to piece his life back together without his soulmate in the months to come. I'm keeping more Kleenex handy.
So to my lovely friend, Julie, who took the big step, and out into the wider acting world. Even before I had ANYTHING to do with Corrie, I loved her portrayal of the shy, loving trans woman that resembled me so much back in the 90's. When we first met, I think we were both relieved that we just clicked and became close friends from that point. Even when Corrie has written slightly dubious storylines for Roy and Hayley, such as Tracy Barlow's framing of Roy, or going on the run with Wayne Hayes, or Hayley's "long-lost son", Julie has always managed to sell it to me, just by being fantastic. She has always supported me in all my creative endeavours (and my occasional emotional meltdowns!), and I will continue to support Julie in hers, as she branches out into the waiting world of theatre, TV and film... and I couldn't be more delighted for her.
Goodbye Hayley, it’s been a privilege.
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