If I ran Corrie, I’d have it in the contracts for some actors that they could never ever leave Corrie no matter what. Julie Hesmondhaigh would be one of those actors. Her character Hayley is needed by all of us. But I do not run Coronation Street.
This week Hayley has had to deal with her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and has had to tell Roy. Two scenes on Monday were heartbreakingly brilliant. The first was when Hayley was being hectored by Beth for miscounting Beth’s knicker output. Carla, knowing something may be wrong, got Hayley out of the situation and into her office. There, Hayley broke down. She couldn’t keep up the brave façade any longer and told Carla she had a tumour. Carla hauled her bottle out of her cupboard and waved it toward Hayley who said no. Carla said she could certainly use a drink herself, speaking perhaps for us all.
Heading home, Hayley steeled herself to tell Roy and Sylvia. Their faces made words unnecessary. Sylvia’s face said ‘dear God in Heaven, how will we get through this?’ and Roy’s face said ‘What?’. Sylvia’s expression conveyed love, sorrow and worry in equal parts; Roy’s, total incomprehension. He soon rallied, however, and ran for his Mr Fix-it hat. Off to the library, the internet, the doctor; looking for alternatives, for better answers.
Wednesday’s episode ended on a shocker. Roy angrily blurting out at Audrey’s party that Hayley was fatally ill. Despite his Royston-like behaviour of obsessing in the “interweb” as Sylvia put it, his betrayal of Hayley’s confidence seemed uncharacteristic. Watching, we discussed whether this was believable in light of Roy’s distress or if it was plot-driven writing in order to have everyone on the street find out. Our conclusion was that if the question even comes to mind, the writing needed reworking.
The follow-up scene on Thursday helped soften the shock of such un-Roy-like behaviour. Hayley told him in no uncertain terms what she thought of what he’d done, even defiantly finishing her glass of champagne. He realized the enormity of his error. I think the whole scene should have been part of the same episode without splitting it for cliffhanger effect.
Back home that evening, Sylvia told Roy that Hayley didn’t need him looking for cures, that she had doctors for that and they knew more about it than he did. What Hayley needed was just him and his love and support. Roy listened to his mother. When Hayley came from her bath, he’d made her something to eat. Expecting some revolting healthful concoction, she told him thanks but no thanks. He unveiled the plate to show her cheese on toast and brickmaker’s tea, strong enough to stand a spoon in. And then, with a bit of prompting by Hayley, he hugged her and held her close. She told him her fear of dying. He said he wished only that it could be him instead of her. She said that would be worse for her.