Coronation Street: farewell Hayley Cropper – review

Roy & Hayley

Hayley's euthanasia storyline reached its conclusion with two finely scripted episodes and some of the best performances the cobbles have ever seen

He buttoned her cardigan wrong, that's the thing. On the day she'd chosen as her last, Roy had buttoned Hayley's cardigan wrong. "How did that happen?" he asked in anguish, and he begged her to stay just one more day so that they could do everything better tomorrow. But, suffering from terminal cancer and fearful that the effects of the drugs and pain to come would strip her of the selfhood she had fought so hard over the years to piece together, Hayley couldn't.

I suspect Roy knew from the moment he fell in love with Hayley then-Patterson, back in 1998, that she couldn't stay. Not for ever. Life's just not that kind to the Roy and Hayley Croppers of this world. Each a misfit and isolated in their own way – Hayley by her transgendered identity and Roy by his … Royness – they found each other, braved the bigots and carved out a life together on Coronation Street. And – thanks to years of loving, careful, delicate performances by two of the finest actors ever to grace those fabled cobbles, Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson – every moment, for the viewer, was a pleasure.

On Monday, in two finely scripted episodes by writers Debbie Oates and Chris Fewtrell, Hayley left both Roy and us. One last shirt ironed, one last hug of Fiz and Tyrone's children, one last barm secured for Chesney, and it was time. "If there is a bloke up there wi' a clipboard," said Hayley as they sat together on the sofa, trying to find a way to bear the unbearable, "I reckon I can look him in the eye." "I doubt very much," said Roy bitterly, "whether he could say the same." The fathomless injustice that consumes us all in the face of bereavement distilled into a single small exchange.

When Hayley once – just once – breaks down in tears, Roy has a hanky. Roy always has a hanky. They move into the bedroom and she prepares her pills while he puts on the Vaughan Williams they both like. Roy lies down beside her. He takes his shoes off first, of course. So has she. "I wouldn't be anywhere else," says Hayley. "Nor I," says Roy. She chokes down her pills, forcing away Roy's hand which has flown up instinctively to save her, and him. And she dies.

Goodbye Hayley, and goodbye Julie Hesmondhalgh. And thank you for everything.

Powered by article was written by Lucy Mangan, for on Monday 20th January 2014 22.05 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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