Monday night’s heat-wrenching episode of Coronation Street had the entire nation talking, a goal aimed for by the soap, but figures emerging prove that some of those were the people that really mattered.
When it was announced that Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh) would take her own life after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer last year to avoid losing her composure and regressing to her past of darkness, it was bound to spark a debate amongst fans.
With campaign groups for and against battling over the ‘right to die’ issue till the very end, no one could argue that when the time came, the subject was dealt with such delicate and sincere beauty.
Of course broadcasting the episode the same week as this year’s National Television Awards was a very big bonus, but one of the other missions of the somewhat taboo storyline was to raise awareness and offer support to those who may be in similar situations.
And this aim, it seems, was completely achieved as the Samaritans, who worked closely with writers planning the storyline, have reported a 30% rise in calls following Monday night’s episode.
Chief executive of the charity, Catherine Johnstone, is reported by The Sun newspaper as commenting: “We are pleased the Coronation Street production team acted responsibly by consulting with Samaritans about this controversial storyline.
“Our two decades of experience of advising the media about issues surrounding the portrayal of suicide led to Hayley’s death and the devastation of her partner Roy being handled in a sensitive way.”
However, despite the very successful outreach there were some that found the episode too “heavy” with 100 complaints made to ITV, whilst the subject also dominated social networking circuit with 100,893 tweets posted on Twitter regarding Hayley’s departure, the highest amount the show has ever seen.
Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley, has always supported the ‘right to die’ campaign, and has been very vocal about her views on it throughout the storyline, despite producers insisting that the show would not take sides in the campaign.
After picking up the award for best dramatic performance at last night’s National Television Awards Hesmondhalgh, who took her on-screen husband David Nielsen, who plays Roy and who was also nominated in the category, on stage with her to accept the award, thanked fans for their support over the last few months.
Coronation Street continues tomorrow night at 7.30pm on ITV1 – ITV1 HD – Watch an interview with Julie following her award in the clip below: