Monday, 31 August 2015

Meet Annie Wallace - the inspiration for Corrie's Hayley Cropper

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog August 2015, reposted to this blog with permission.)

I can't express how happy I am to be blogging this about our friend Annie - at last. 

Last week in Manchester, a 50-year-old woman from Aberdeen was speaking on a panel at a Manchester Pride's Superbia event – Transcript.

The panel also included Corrie scriptwriters Damon Rochefort and Ben Tagoe, actors Bruno Langley (Todd Grimshaw) and Daniel Brocklebank (Billy the vicar), actress Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley Cropper) and Cucumber actress Bethany Black.

But never mind them, back to the Aberdeen woman! She's called Annie Wallace and blogger Tvor and I have been friends with her for over 16 years. Annie was brought in to Coronation Street in 1998 as a research assistant to Julie Hesmondhalgh – who played Hayley for 16 years.

As the inspiration for Coronation Street's Hayley, Annie last night spoke publicly for the first time about being transgender.

Annie reflected that Hayley was 'like a sister to her', and said: “It is still difficult for me to speak about it and at first trans activists were against Hayley. I spent two and a half hours with researchers having all of my hopes and dreams and fears put on cassette tapes. It was transcribed and given to all the writers at the time as their bible. I started looking at draft scripts. I wasn't telling Julie how to play a character, this was just about detail and putting full-stops and crossing ts.”

Julie says Annie was 'absolutely essential' for her portrayal of Hayley, especially with the huge secrecy surrounding the first introduction of a transgender character on the Cobbles.

The Accrington-born actress 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 trans person 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 and Annie are planning to write a two-woman show together about what Hayley has meant to them, which they hope to run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

And Annie, who is now an actress in her own right, said: "Watch this space!"

Read the full story, and see all the pics at the Manchester Evening News.

Read our exclusive interview from 2014 with Annie Wallace.

Relive Roy and Hayley's romance in A Perfect Duet - the diary of Roy and Hayley Cropper.

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