Julie Hesmondhalgh - things you didn't know about the former Coronation Street actress

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Julie Hesmondhalgh attends the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards at The Royal Festival Hall on May 13, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images) (Image credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

From crowdfunding to whirlwind romances, here are 7 things you might not know about Julie Hesmondhalgh...

Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh is best known for playing the now-legendary Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street from 1998 until she bowed out of the soap in dramatic fashion in 2014. Since leaving Coronation Street Julie has starred in TV hits like Broadchruch and Doctor Who. Most fans of the actress will know that:

  • Julie isn't just famous for her TV roles, she is also a renowned theatre actress
  • Her Coronation Street alter ego Hayley was the first ever transgender character in British soap
  • She is about to star in a brand new ITV six-part drama with Dawn French called The Trouble with Maggie Cole

But, there's more to Julie Hesmondhalgh than that. Here are several things you probably don't know about the actress...

Julie Hesmondhalgh: little known facts about the former Corrie legend

1. She set up an amazing fundraising group

Julie is the co-founder of a fundraising campaign called '500 acts of kindness' which sees 500 people give one pound each a week to help those in need.

Speaking of the campaign, which started just over a year ago, Julie told salfordnow.co.uk: "It's such a simple and brilliant idea. 500 of us donate one pound a week by standing order, it gets paid into an account and then every week a small committee decide who that £500 goes to - an individual, a family or an organisation who might need it.

"Over the course of a year you give away over £26,000 to people who really need it, and for less than the price of a coffee a week."

2. She was hand picked for the role of Hayley 

Roy and Hayley in Coronation Street

Hayley and Roy soon became one of Coronation Street's most beloved couples (Picture: PA) (Image credit: PA)

Julie was spotted by the casting department at Coronation Street whilst starring in stage production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. The team were so impressed by her performance that she was signed up and made her screen debut as Hayley Cropper in 1998.

3. She moved in with her husband just a week after meeting him


Julie knew she was going marry Ian as soon as she met him (Picture: Eamonn and James Clarke/PA Images) (Image credit: Eamonn and James Clarke/PA Images)

Julie met her husband Ian Kershaw on a night out shortly after she joined the cast of Coronation Street and by the end of the evening she told him that they would get married.

The actress told Notebook magazine: "We went out on the Thursday night, I moved in with him on the following Wednesday and I wad pregnant within six weeks."

4. Her husband has been in Coronation Street 

While everyone knows Julie's on screen husband was Roy Cropper, played by the legendary David Neilson, it is a little known fact that her real-life husband has also appeared in the soap.

Ian has made 5 brief appearances in Coronation Street over the years, playing everything from a Weatherfield Gazette reporter to a solicitor. Ian also writes for Coronation Street, having joined the writing team in 2018.

5. Julie's role as Hayley Cropper was meant to be a joke

Julie has revealed that her now-legendary character, Hayley, was only meant to be on screen for two weeks.

She told The Telegraph's Stella Magazine: "The character was originally written as a joke. It wasn't a politically correct one, but this was back in 1998. The joke was that Roy was going to go on a series of disastrous dates, one of them being with a man who has transgendered into a woman."

6. She won hordes of awards for her role on Coronation Street 

Julie Hesmondhalgh backstage at the National Television Awards 2014

Julie at the National Television Awards 2014 (Picture: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment/PA) (Image credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)

Julie won an amazing six awards during her time on the cobbles, and her controversial assisted suicide exit from Coronation Street saw her heaped with praise after more than 9.5 million viewers tuned in to watch Hayley's final moments.

7. Her husband wrote a play just for her 

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Ian Kershaw

Julie brought her one-woman Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show to London last year (Picture: Getty) (Image credit: Dave Benett/Getty Images for Tar)

Julie recently realised the added bonus of her husband being a writer when he presenter her with her very own one-woman play as a Christmas gift.

The play is called The Greatest Play in the History of the World and received rave reviews when she took it to Edinburgh Fringe. Julie has just finished a run at London's Trafalgar Studios with the play where she again was praised by critics.

Julie Hesmondhalgh's Fact File 

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the actress...

How old is she?

Julie Hesmondhalgh's age is 49. Her date of birth is 25th of February 1970.

Is she in a relationship?

Julie Hesmondhalgh is married to screenwriter Ian Kershaw.

Does she have kids?

Julie Hesmondhalgh and her husband Ian have a 18-year-old daughter called Martha.

Where was she born?

Julie Hesmondhalgh was born in Accrington in Lancashire.

How tall is she?

Julie Hesmondhalgh's height is 1.62 metres, or 5ft 3inches.

Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.30pm and 8.30pm on ITV.

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.