Julie Hesmondhalgh

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Julie Hesmondhalgh
Julie's Helping Hand - 2008 (4605397671).jpg
Hesmondhalgh in 2008
Born Julie Claire Hesmondhalgh
(1970-02-25) 25 February 1970 (age 47)
Accrington, Lancashire, England
Residence Tameside, Greater Manchester, UK
Alma mater London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 1988–present
Agent Lou Coulson Associates
Television Coronation Street (1998–2014)
Cucumber (2015)
Happy Valley (2016)
Broadchurch (2017)
Spouse(s) Ian Kershaw
Children 2

Julie Claire Hesmondhalgh (born 25 February 1970) is an English actress, known for her role as Hayley Cropper in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street between 1998 and 2014.[1][2] For this role, she won Best Serial Drama Performance at the 2014 National Television Awards and Best Actress at the 2014 British Soap Awards.

Hesmondhalgh's other regular television roles include Cucumber (2015), Happy Valley (2016), and Broadchurch (2017). Her stage credits include God Bless the Child at the Royal Court Theatre in London (2014), and Wit at the Royal Exchange, Manchester (2016).

Early life[edit]

Hesmondhalgh was born in Accrington, Lancashire. She applied to drama school aged 18 and studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art from 1988 to 1991 (one of her classmates was Benito Martinez). On finishing her training, Hesmondhalgh was a part of Arts Threshold, a small independent theatre in London, for several years, and worked with Rufus Norris in his directorial debut. In the 1990s, she appeared in such television dramas as The Bill, Catherine Cookson's The Dwelling Place, and in the Victoria Wood comedic television movie Pat and Margaret.



Hesmondhalgh is best known for playing Hayley Cropper on the ITV soap opera Coronation Street. Making her first appearance on the show in 1998, she played the first transgender character on a British serial.[3] Hesmondhalgh took time off between 2000 and 2001 from Coronation Street to give birth to her first daughter. After nearly ten years on the show, Hesmondhalgh decided to take a break from Coronation Street for a year in order to spend more time with her family. She left on 22 October 2007, but returned on 17 November 2008. On 24 December 2011, Hesmondhalgh appeared on ITV's The Cube, winning £20,000 for her Accrington-based anti-poverty charity, Maundy Relief.

Hesmondhalgh's character Hayley was involved in high-profile storylines, including a gender transition storyline, and hostage storyline in the Underworld factory in which Hayley and Carla Connor (Alison King) were kidnapped, bound and gagged by Tony Gordon, who intended to murder them, although they escaped. On 11 January 2013, ITV announced that Hesmondhalgh would be leaving Coronation Street in January 2014 after 15 years on the show, and that her character Hayley Cropper was to leave in a controversial right to die storyline, following a battle with Pancreatic Cancer.[4] She filmed her final scenes on 18 November 2013 which aired on 22 January 2014, the night she won a National Television Award for Best Performance in a Serial Drama, which she shared with her longtime co-star, David Neilson. She worked with Pancreatic Cancer charities to raise awareness of the disease, was involved in a petition and attended a parliamentary debate on the subject in 2014.

On 1 May 2013, Hesmondhalgh appeared on ITV game show All Star Mr & Mrs with husband Ian, and won £20,000, again for Maundy Relief.

From 22 January 2015, Hesmondhalgh starred in the Channel 4 drama series Cucumber, written by Russell T Davies. She played the role of Cleo Whitaker.[5] She also appeared in the BBC Four film Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster which is a television film about the murder of Sophie Lancaster. Hesmondhalgh played the role of Sophie's mother, Sylvia Lancaster, a role which she previously portrayed on stage. Hesmondhalgh is friends with Sylvia Lancaster and patron of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. in 2015, Hesmondhalgh won a Royal Television Society Award for Best Female Actor in a Drama for her role as Sylvia.

In 2015, she also appeared in the BBC drama Moving On: Taxi for Linda, with Shane Richie and John Thomson and La Couchette, the first episode of the second series of Inside No 9, written by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith.

In 2016, Hesmondhalgh joined the cast of acclaimed drama thriller Happy Valley for its second series on BBC One. She was offered the role by creator, writer and executive producer Sally Wainwright. Hesmondhalgh's character Amanda Wadsworth, is a midwife and working mother from Yorkshire who has a fraught relationship with her husband, John (Kevin Doyle).[6]

In April 2016, it was announced that Hesmondhalgh was to join the upcoming third series of Broadchurch on ITV.[7] The series, the show's last, was screened in February-March 2017. In it Hesmondhalgh portrayed the lead role of Trish.


From 19 to 29 September 2012, Hesmondhalgh appeared at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, portraying Sylvia Lancaster in Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster opposite Rachel Austin. The play was based on the real-life story of Sylvia's late daughter, Sophie Lancaster. Hesmondhalgh won a Manchester Theatre Award for Best Studio Performance in 2013, and is Patron of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

On 23 January 2014, she returned to the Royal Exchange Theatre for her first role since leaving Coronation Street, in the Simon Stephens play Blindsided, which ran until 15 February. From 12 November to 20 December 2014, she appeared in God Bless The Child at the Royal Court Theatre in London, directed by Vicky Featherstone, playing Mrs Bradley, with Amanda Abbington.

In June 2015, Hesmondhalgh performed a script-in-hand scratch performance of her first one-woman play, These I Love, at Gulliver's in Manchester.

In January 2016, she played Vivian Bearing, an American Professor of Poetry dying of ovarian cancer, in Margaret Edson's Wit at The Royal Exchange main stage, directed by Raz Shaw.

She is a founder member of a Manchester-based grassroots theatre company creating work about social issues, Take Back, which she runs with Rebekah Harrison and Grant Archer, and to which she has contributed as a writer and actor. She is a member of The Gap collective, a new writing company in Manchester and performed their first gala performance at Halle St Peters in September 2015, in a piece by husband Ian Kershaw.

She is a supporter of Arts Emergency and a mentor with the National Youth Theatre Rep Company.

Personal life[edit]

Hesmondhalgh is married to writer Ian Kershaw. The couple live in Tameside with their two daughters. She is a Labour Party member and campaigned for the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.

Charity work[edit]

Hesmondhalgh is a patron of the following charities and groups: Trans Media Watch,[8] Maundy Relief, Marple Drama, the Albert Kennedy Trust, WAST, Manchester People's Assembly, Reuben's Retreat, The Alex Williams Believe and Achieve Trust, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation (for whom she and Ian held a creative writing competition in schools across the North West in 2011) and the British Humanist Association,.[9]


Year Title Role Type Notes
1994 The Dwelling Place Rose Turnbull TV 3 episodes
Pat and Margaret Helper in Old Age Home Film
The Bill Jo TV Episode titled "No Job for an Amateur"
1997 The Bill Doctor TV Episode titled "Do Unto Others"
1998 Dalziel and Pascoe Wendy Walker TV Episode titled "The Wood Beyond"
1998–2014 Coronation Street Hayley Cropper TV Series Regular, 1437 episodes
2001 Live Talk Herself TV Presenter, 11 episodes
2003 TV Burp Hayley Cropper TV Episode #2.4
2009 Coronation Street: Romanian Holiday Hayley Cropper DVD Coronation Street spin-off, released straight to DVD
2010 East Street Hayley Cropper TV Coronation Street and EastEnders combined for Children in Need
2015 Cucumber Cleo Whitaker TV 8 episodes
Banana Cleo Whitaker TV 1 episode
Inside No. 9 Kath Cook TV 1 episode: "La Couchette"
Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster Sylvia Lancaster TV 1 episode
Closets Penny Film 20 minute short.
2016 Happy Valley Amanda Wadsworth TV Series 2
Moving On Linda TV 1 episode: "Taxi for Linda"
2017 Broadchurch Trish Winterman TV ITV drama series


Year Ceremony Award Nominated work Result
1999 National Television Awards "Most Popular Actress" Coronation Street
as Hayley Cropper
The British Soap Awards "Best On-screen Partnership" Won
2004 Won
2013 Royal Television Society "Best Performance in a Continuing Drama" Won
2014 National Television Awards "Best Serial Drama Performance" Won
TRIC Awards "Soap Personality" Nominated
The British Soap Awards "Best Actress" Won
"Best On-screen Partnership" Won


  1. ^ Gillings, Samantha (28 November 2000). "Answer me: Getting personal with ... Hayley Cropper". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Chantler, Paul; Stewart, Peter (1 November 2009). Essential Radio Journalism: How to Produce and Present Radio News. A&C Black. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-7136-8874-0. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Transgender: A History". AlbertaTrans.org. 2007. Archived from the original on 26 October 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008. 
  4. ^ "Goodbye Hayley". ITV. 17 January 2013. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Bourne, Dianne (12 June 2014). "Julie Hesmondhalgh all smiles as she films new drama Cucumber in Manchester". Manchester Evening News. 
  6. ^ "Interview with Julie Hesmondhalgh". bbc.co.uk. BBC Press Office. 19 January 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "New cast members for Broadchurch 3 announced ahead of filming of the final series". ITV. 12 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "Trans Media Watch – Supporters". Trans Media Watch. 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Distinguished Supporters: Julie Hesmondhalgh". British Humanist Association. 24 May 2012. 

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