CORONATION Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh has admitted she "wouldn't have been able" to play her much-loved Hayley Cropper character in modern times.
The Lancashire actress, 52, reminisced on her time as the soap's red coat-clad Roy's Rolls worker during today's episode of Lorraine.
Julie played Hayley – Coronation Street stalwart Roy Cropper's wife – from 1998 to 2014.
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Hayley was the first transsexual character in a British soap opera.
The fan favourite character died in husband Roy's arms after being diagnosed with stage two pancreatic cancer.
Yet Broadchurch star Julie has told how her show exit "came at the right time" – and that she "wouldn't be able to" play Hayley now.
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Speaking to host Lorraine Kelly, she said: "As cis gender, I wouldn't have been able to play the part now."
She went on to say a "fantastic" trans actor would take on the role in current times.
Julie explained: "It would have been difficult for a trans actor to play the part in 1997."
She added: "There was a long way to go before trans people were accepted."
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During her time on the soap, Julie worked closely with Annie Wallace – the woman who inspired Hayley's character.
The pair have now both been featured in an exhibition alongside Hayley's iconic red anorak.
Julie confessed to Lorraine: "When I left Corrie I didn't know what to do with the anorak.
"I held onto it for ages then tried to raise money by auctioning it off, but that didn't really happen."
Now the iconic item is featured in an exhibition in Bradford.
Recently, ITV was praised by adding disclaimers onto vintage Corrie episodes.
One such warning alerted viewers to "opinions of the time" which said some "viewers may now find offensive".
The pre-show warning was attached to a series of episodes featuring the transgender character Hayley.
"Today's classic Corrie includes transgender comments and opinions of the time that viewers may now find offensive," the pre-show warning says.
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Hollyoaks actress Annie Wallace who was the first transgender person to play a transgender character on a British soap, heaped praise on ITV3 for adding the warning.
"Thank you, @ITV , for preceding some of the current #ClassicCorrie episodes featuring Roy and Hayley with this alert. #timeschange #itv3 @itvcorrie."
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