Coronation Street producer Stuart Blackburn has denied that the ITV soap is an advocate for right to die. Speaking about the show's upcoming episode in which terminally ill Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh) takes her own life, Blackburn said:
"We're not advocates for Hayley's decision in any way, shape or form. Roy's ongoing story demonstrates that on one level it was wrong because she's left behind a man filled with guilt, anger and recrimination."
In emotional scenes to be shown on Monday 20 September, viewers will see Hayley prepare to bring her own suffering to an end before cancer treatment renders her incapable of doing so. Determined not to implicate Roy, Hayley makes plans for her own suicide, with even her husband’s last-minute pleas failing to soften her resolve.
But in the coming weeks, Roy will be seen struggling with his grief: “Roy’s got to deal with the loss of the only person he’s ever loved, but in the run-up to the funeral, he struggles to let the grief flow because he’s so angry with her," added Blackburn. “He knows that on the day of the funeral, the odds are that Hayley could have been alive. She may have just had an hour but that hour could have been good and there’s guilt that he didn’t stop her.”
Reports in today's Daily Mirror highlight concerns that Hayley's demise could lead to a wave of similar deaths, with a spokesperson for the Samaritans commenting: "There is a risk of copycat suicides." On the topic of whether viewers could be influenced by her actions, Blackburn admitted to RadioTimes.com:
"I don't know. People may have a discussion and talk about. In fact, they already do. And we have a right to have the discussion. It may have been right decision for Hayley, but it was the wrong decision for those around her. Fiz is angry, while Roy and Anna both feel guilty.
"In a way though, this story isn't about people with cancer or terminal illness - it's about Hayley, someone who's spent a lifetime fighting to become and be a woman. The absolute fear for her is that, with the amount of painkillers she'd have to take, she'd experience periods of confusion. Her determination is to leave life as Hayley."