Former Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh has revealed she was initially cast as a transgender character in the soap as a “joke”.
The star played Hayley Cropper in the show for 16 years before the character took an overdose after giving up her struggle with incurable cancer.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine, Julie said: “I wasn’t meant to be in Coronation Street for any longer than two weeks.
“The character of Hayley was originally written as a joke. It wasn’t a politically correct one, but this was back in 1998.
“The joke was that Roy Cropper (David Neilson) was going to go on a series of disastrous blind dates, one of them being with a man who had transgendered to a woman.”
She added that she was determined to make the role into something, and felt like she could make the audience fall in love with the first transgender character to be cast in a British soap.
Hayley and Roy got together before it was legal for them to be married, and the actress was having to explain this to the public.
Women would tell her not to worry, she said, adding: “To me, that was it. You make people like this woman – understand her – and you say more than any political speech or lobbying.”
Julie appears in the next series of Broadchurch in which she plays a rape victim.
But one of her outstanding ambitions is to appear in Doctor Who, and while playing the Doctor would be “something”, she would not mind “just being an alien”.