Open main menu

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.

Julie Hesmondhalgh
Julie's Helping Hand - 2008 (4605397671).jpg
Hesmondhalgh in 2008
Julie Claire Hesmondhalgh

(1970-02-25) 25 February 1970 (age 49)
ResidenceTameside, Greater Manchester, UK
Alma materLondon Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Years active1988–present
AgentLou Coulson Associates
TelevisionCoronation Street (1998–2014)
Cucumber (2015)
Happy Valley (2016)
Broadchurch (2017)
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Ian Kershaw

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).

In 2019 Methuen Drama published her Working Diary as part of their Theatre Makers series.

She is, with writer Becx Harrison and visual artist Grant Archer, co-founder of Take Back, a Manchester based theatre collective dedicated to making script in hand rapid responses to social and political events.


Early lifeEdit

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 in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street. Making her first appearance on the show in 1998, she played the first transgender character in a British serial.[3] She took time off from the soap between 2000 and 2001 to give birth to her first daughter. After nearly ten years on the show, Hesmondhalgh decided to take another break 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.

Her character Hayley was involved in high-profile storylines, including one concerning a gender transition, and a 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 in the show, and that her character Hayley 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; they 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, and 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 for Maundy Relief.

From 22 January 2015, Hesmondhalgh played the role of Cleo Whitaker in the Channel 4 drama series Cucumber, written by Russell T Davies.[5] She also appeared in the BBC Four film Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster, 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 appeared in an episode of the BBC drama Moving On, with Shane Richie and John Thomson, as well as the one episode 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 2017, Hesmondhalgh played the lead role of Trish in the third and final series of Broadchurch on ITV.[7]

In 2018, she was announced as a guest star in the Doctor Who episode "Kerblam!".[8]

In 2019, she played Amanda in the first episode of the final season of Channel 4's Catastrophe with Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan. In March 2019 it was announced that she would be appearing in new six part ITV comedy drama Glasshouses with Dawn French.


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, for which she was nominated for a TMA and won a Manchester Theatre Award for Best Female Performance.

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.

On 30 April 2017, Hesmondhalgh starred in a one-off performance at the Royal Court Theatre, of Lemn Sissay's The Report, directed by John E. McGrath.[9]

In February 2018 she starred as Renee in The Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver. It was directed by Katy Rudd at the Royal Exchange

In February 2019 she performed the title role in Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht, adapted by Anna Jordan. It was directed by Amy Hodge at the Royal Exchange, Manchester

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

Personal lifeEdit

Hesmondhalgh is married to screenwriter Ian Kershaw. The couple live in Tameside with their two daughters.

Activism and FundraisingEdit

Hesmondhalgh is a Labour Party member.[10] In August 2015, she endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election. She tweeted: "Proudly supporting Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest."[11] She campaigned for Corbyn as party leader in the 2017 UK general election.[10] In May 2017, speaking at Labour's general election campaign launch in Manchester, she said: "I realised the Labour party and its core values would finally be in line with my own deeply held socialist beliefs about equality, justice and peace."[12]

Hesmondhalgh is a patron of the following organisations: Trans Media Watch,[13] Maundy Relief, Marple Drama, WAST, Manchester People's Assembly, Reuben's Retreat, The Alex Williams Believe and Achieve Trust, and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation (for whom she and Ian held a creative writing competition in schools across the North West in 2011)

In 2019 she set up the group 500 Acts of Kindness, a fundraising community where 500 members donate a pound a week to give to an individual, group, family or organisation in need.


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: "No Job for an Amateur"
1997 The Bill Doctor Episode: "Do Unto Others"
1998 Dalziel and Pascoe Wendy Walker Episode titled "The Wood Beyond"
1998–2014 Coronation Street Hayley Cropper Series Regular, 1437 episodes
2001 Live Talk Herself Presenter, 11 episodes
2003 TV Burp Hayley Cropper Episode #2.4
2009 Coronation Street: Romanian Holiday DVD Coronation Street spin-off, released straight to DVD
2010 East Street TV Coronation Street and EastEnders combined for Children in Need
2015 Cucumber Cleo Whitaker 8 episodes
Banana 1 episode
Inside No. 9 Kath Cook 1 episode: "La Couchette"
Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster Sylvia Lancaster 1 episode
Closets Penny Film 20 minute short.
2016 Happy Valley Amanda Wadsworth TV Series 2
Moving On Linda 1 episode: "Taxi for Linda"
2017 Broadchurch Trish Winterman Series 3
2018 Doctor Who Judy Maddox Episode: "Kerblam!"

Awards and nominationsEdit

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
2015 Royal Television Society Best Female Performance Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster Won
2017 Manchester Theatre Awards Actress In A Leading Role Wit Won
2018 British Academy Television Awards Best Supporting Actress Broadchurch Nominated


  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". 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 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. ^ Tobin, Christian (4 November 2018). "Doctor Who series 11 episodes 7 and 8 feature the galaxy's biggest shop and 17th century witch trials". Digital Spy.
  9. ^ "Julie Hesmondhalgh to read Lemn Sissay's The Report at the Royal Court". Whats on Stage. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Broadchurch actor introduces Jeremy Corbyn at Labour campaign launch – video". The Guardian. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  11. ^ Hesmondhalgh, Julie (15 August 2015). "Proudly supporting Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest". Twitter. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  12. ^ Bloom, Dan; Milne, Oliver (9 May 2017). "Corrie star Julie Hesmondhalgh backs Jeremy Corbyn in tub-thumping speech saying he'll make Britain 'give a toss'". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Trans Media Watch – Supporters". Trans Media Watch. 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.

External linksEdit