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Julie Hesmondhalgh was one of the most recognisable TV stars of the noughties playing Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street.
Julie became a household name playing the first transgender soap character who arrived on the cobbles to date Roy Cropper in 1998.
The actress left the show in 2014 to concentrate on other projects and has said she has “no regrets” about her decision to leave.
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"I wanted to do other things, and I have," she told Entertainment Daily.
"I’ve had a really rich and successful career post-Corrie, in theatre, in telly, in film, in radio and so I have moved forward in my life, in that way."
Since her departure from the show, Julie has landed parts in Broadchurch, Happy Valley and The A Word.
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Julie also starred in BBC Four film Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster.
The 50-year-old admits that she still loves Corrie which she “watches religiously”.
She added: "I love that programme. I still watch it. My husband is a writer on it. I watch it religiously, I absolutely love it, but my time on it has definitely ended."
Coronation Street homes
Hayley has been married to scriptwriter Ian Kershaw for 16 years and the couple has two grown-up daughters.
Julie has said that if she was offered the role of Hayley now she would turn it down and hopes it would go to a trans actor.
"I would hope that it wouldn't be offered to me as a cis woman, I definitely wouldn't take it,” she told the Guardian, adding:
"I left Corrie because it was time for me to go personally, but it was also time for Hayley – a trans woman played by a cis woman – to go, too."
She continued: "I was about to become an absolute anachronism because there were then trans actors to play those parts, and even more now."
"There was a really great trans rights group, Press for Change, who were really, really p****d off – and I totally understood why," added Julie, who is now a patron of numerous charities, including Trans Media Watch.
However, Julie also acknowledges the scrutiny that a trans casting could have had in 1998.
"I met them and said: 'I hear you, but honestly I think the pressure on a trans actor – who definitely would have had a certain amount of vulnerability anyway – would have been unbearable,” she said, adding:
"The way the press was then, they'd have been eaten alive. So I assured them that I was their ally, that I would play the part with as much sensitivity and empathy as I could, that I would listen to them. And, honestly, I think I did a decent job."
Julie is currently working on BBC Cymru Wales drama The Pact which is due to air in the Spring.
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