Julie Hesmondhalgh: ‘TV should represent diversity – we’re at risk of being very white and very posh’

The former Coronation Street actress and Broadchurch series three star says we need to see more real people on our TV screens

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Broadchurch actress Julie Hesmondhalgh has “nothing against posh white men”, but she’s eager to see British TV broaden its horizons and start to represent a more culturally and racially diverse UK.

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“Generally on telly we are a bit at risk sometimes of being very white and very posh,” she says in an interview in this week’s Radio Times.

“I have absolutely nothing against posh white men, I am the biggest Sherlock fan,” the actress, who is starring in series three of Broadchurch continues, “but when I watched The Moorside [BBC1’s drama about the faked kidnapping of Shannon Matthews] I was taken by how real it was.”

“It was absolutely amazing,” says Hesmondhalgh of the BBC1 drama. “We’re just not used to seeing these people on television. We are used to our version of what working class is, but to see real people who live on an estate like that leading a drama was off the scale.”

It’s not just race and class that matter to the actress, though. Her breakthrough role came as transgender character Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, a role she still speaks about with pride.

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“Me playing Hayley now would be an anachronism, but I’m really proud of the strides that have since been taken in the transgender community,” she says.

“Though I’m not going to take credit for changing society, I think having a character like Hayley at the centre of a soap like Corrie definitely helped. Though there’s still a long way to go – there are still hate crimes and prejudice against transgender people.”

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Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine, available in shops and on the Apple Newsstand from Tuesday 28 February

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