It's been 25 years since Hayley became the first trans character on a British soap
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Featured Image Credit: ITV
Yesterday marked 25 years since Hayley Cropper first appeared on our TV screens on the ITV soap Coronation Street.
During her 16 years on the show, Hayley grew to be a real fan favourite among Corrie viewers alongside her husband Roy (David Neilson).
When the character, played by Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh joined the show in 1998, TV history was being made as Hayley was the first trans character to appear in a British soap.
While LGBTQ+ representation is a lot more prevalent in soaps today, it was extremely rare back in the late 1990s.
Hayley first graced Coronation Street on 26 January 1998 as a shy shopkeeper at Firman's Freezers, but quickly befriended Alma Baldwin (Amanda Barrie).
Alma introduced Hayley to Roy, with the pair quickly becoming friends on the famous cobbles.
However, in a date at Roy's flat, Hayley revealed that she was transgender and that she used to be a man called Harold.
The confession left Roy utterly shellshocked, with him initially rejecting her as a result.
But Roy soon realised the importance of their friendship and caught up with Hayley in Amsterdam, where she was having the final part of her treatment to physically become female.
The pair made up and returned to Weatherfield together as a proper couple.
Hayley then settled as an important member of the street and got a job as a machinist at Underworld.
She chose not to disclose her transgender status, but she was forcibly outed when Underworld boss Mike discovered a Tax Office error where Hayley was named as Harold.
As a result of this, Hayley was fired, with many colleagues and residents no longer wanting anything to do with her.
But after some time, many started to accept Hayley, and she also got her job back at the factory.
Hayley and Roy were unable to have kids, but did have two foster children (Fiz and Wayne) during their time together.
Her journey came to an end on Coronation Street in 2014, less than six months after she was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.
Since Hayley's departure, Hesmondhalgh has spoken about playing the first transgender character on a British soap.
Hesmondhalgh, who won six awards for playing Hayley, said she was 'proud' to be given the role, especially given how 'the press were absolutely awful about those issues' at the time, according to the actor.
Speaking on Lorraine last year, Hesmondhalgh said: "As a cisgender person, I wouldn’t be able to play that part now so it’s kind of good that I left when I did.
"There are so many good trans actors now. But I’m proud that I played that part."