Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh was the darling of last night's National Television Awards, taking home the prize for serial drama performance just days after her tear-jerking departure from the soap caught the attention of the telly-viewing public.
But after a whirlwind week, how does the 43-year-old actress reflect upon the star-studded evening which also saw Corrie scoop the award for serial drama? "An amazing night," she told RadioTimes.com. "I think I might wake up in Accrington, 16 years old and it's all been a dream."
Hesmondhalgh's final storyline – which saw her character, Hayley Cropper, take her own life after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – brought to an end a 16-year on-screen relationship with Roy Cropper (played by David Neilson). "That in itself is quite revolutionary, isn't it?" said Julie, "a couple staying together for 16 years. Actually, I think possibly in reality Roy would never be with anyone else – he's a one-woman man and that's it. But it's a continuing drama and there has to be drama. I'm sure he'll have some fun having some disastrous dates along the way and we'll see who he ends up with."
So, what does she miss most about Hayley – a character who debuted on the cobbles in 1998? "I miss her goodness and I miss how well I know her and the relationship I've had with David Neilson and the other people that I'm close to in the story... And also, just having such consistently great writing over such a long period of time. And for women of a certain age that's quite a rare thing."