Last week, we were lucky enough to be invited to a screening of the episodes of Coronation Street in which Hayley Cropper takes her own life as the pain from her cancer becomes increasingly unmanageable…
And I warn you now, when you watch them – the episodes air on Monday, 20 January – have an industrial sized box of tissues at the ready, because the scenes are so beautifully played out, a glass eye would weep.
Anyway, we were among the journalists who interviewed Julie Hesmondhalgh who of course plays Hayley, and she began by saying, “I watched the episodes [in which Hayley dies] last night, and to be honest, I’m glad I didn’t have to see them for the first time today…
“In fact, I can’t believe how brave Jennie [McAlpine] and Debbie [Rush] were to watch it in there!
“But it was extraordinary for me to watch it because I’ve got a bit of distance on it now and seeing it put me right back in it.
“Me and my husband watched it and it was a scene of carnage at the end!
“There was loads of screwed up kitchen roll and empty bottles of whisky. It was so emotional to watch the end of Hayley.
“Seeing her storyline play to its end and seeing her say goodbye [was very moving].”
As you’ll see when the episodes air, Hayley asks Roy to gather her closest friends together so that she can say goodbye to them, but as of course only Roy, Anna and Hayley herself know of the suicide plan, none of Hayley’s friends realise this will be the last time they see her.
Julie said, “The bit where Hayley and Fiz say goodbye to each other, and Hayley grabs hold of Fiz to hug her…
“That nearly killed me, and obviously saying goodbye to David [Neilson] after all these years was hard.
“But what really struck me about Hayley and Roy’s last scenes together is how peacefully written it was…”
When Hayley passes away with Roy at her side, we see the camera panning around their flat, where it’s silent and completely still.
Of that, Julie said, “The directing was amazing as well. That shot where the camera moves through the flat, and you see all of Roy and Hayley’s pictures…
“It’s beautiful and I felt really honoured to be part of it.”
When asked if she’d found filming her final scenes as Hayley to be emotional, Julie replied, “Yes very much so, but it was hard because I had to be strong, because Hayley was being strong.
“We knew it was going to be upsetting to watch and to film, but we didn’t want it to be a tearfest for us, and we were very keen to make it as un-beautiful as we could.
“We wanted to make it an awkward and difficult scene between them because right at the end, even though Roy’s told Hayley that he agrees with her decision [to end her own life] he doesn’t…
“And Hayley almost railroads him at the end because it’s all becoming too painful, and I thought that came over very strongly in it – that’s she’s in charge. She’s driving the bus as it were.
“But poor Roy can’t get off the bus, and I found that quite upsetting to watch.”
Here’s a preview of the truly moving scenes, and you can click here to read our interview with Debbie Rush…