Former Coronation Street star Stephanie Cole was originally intended to have a much larger role in Hayley Cropper’s current pancreatic cancer plotline.
“She was such a massive part of the story and people were very much talking about Roy, Hayley and Sylvia as a family,” actress Julie Hesmondhalgh told RadioTimes.com. “It would have been a lovely element to have had her acerbically undercutting everything.”
Cole, who was last seen on screen as Roy’s battleaxe mum Sylvia back in August, ended her time on the Street earlier than originally expected following the death of a family member.
Following reports that she had left the ITV soap due to ill health, the 72-year-old took to Twitter to state:
To set the record straight: I am NOT ill. I was due to finish on The Street & as one of my brothers was killed so we decided to end early.
— Stephanie Cole (@Stephdivacole) August 23, 2013
On screen, Sylvia’s sudden absence was put down to her going to stay with sister Jean in order to get away from the problems at home with Roy and Hayley. However, behind-the-scenes rewrites saw Cole’s lines being handed to other characters.
“Rewriting results in your character talking about their childhood with someone you would never usually confide in,” David Neilson, who plays Roy, admitted. “They just give the lines to somebody else. So suddenly Roy has long scenes with Anna, for instance. For the writers it must be a nightmare. Some scenes you really want to see and suddenly you can’t do them.”
But both Hesmondhalgh and Neilson were quick to acknowledge that Cole’s departure had resulted in new plotline possibilities being opened up.
“What it’s meant is that there is now more space for characters like Fiz and Carla,” said Hesmondhalgh.
“Fiz is great with Roy,” co-star Neilson agreed. “And the thing about this show is that the viewers do react in a very intense way to storylines, but that goes away once the story is over. They obviously remember the history, but what they’re really interested in is what’s going on now.”