AS soap fans prepare to say a final farewell to one of Coronation Street’s most popular characters, Julie Hesmondhalgh is gearing up for a stint as a DJ.

The 43-year-old, who has played Hayley Cropper in the ITV soap since 1998, will be behind the decks at the Bop Local Xmas Party at Heaton Park Sports & Social Bar, Bury Old Road, on Friday.

She said: “They’ve been asking me to do it for ages but my dad was ill and I wasn’t able to do it this time last year.

“I’m free this weekend so I’ve said yes. They’ve had John Thomson and Simon Rimmer (as previous guest DJs) and I was dead excited to be asked. It’s a great club, I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’m not going to go anywhere out of the box.

“It will be a very typical Bop Local demographic. Everything that people like will be on my playlist.

“I love a dance. I’m a massive Smiths fan. You can never go wrong with The Smiths so that’ll be on.

“There is one that I absolutely can’t not dance to — Reach by S Club 7 but I don’t think that would go down well. That’s the one I’m going to leave at home.

“It’ll be like the stuff I used to dance to at the indie night at La di da's in Accrington in ‘88.”

Next month will see Julie’s final tear-jerking Coronation Street scenes screened as Hayley loses her battle with terminal pancreatic cancer.

She said: “It was absolutely heart-breaking to go. It was heart-breaking to film the final scenes.”

The first transgender character in a British soap opera, Hayley quickly won the hearts of the nation and cafe owner Roy Cropper.

Julie said: “It’s been wonderful, it really has been lovely. I walk through Manchester and the people that recognise me are so lovely.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to play her for as long as I have.”

Following the storyline, Julie is now urging people to sign a petition to fight for better research, funding and awareness of pancreatic cancer.

She said: “Maggie Watts, who lost her husband to pancreatic cancer, she set up an e-petition.

“Pancreatic cancer has got a really very low survival rate. The survival rate hasn’t improved at all in 40 years whereas every other cancer has.”

They hope to attract 20,000 signatures before delivering the petition to Downing Street and, at the time of writing, it had more than 18,100.

Julie said: “That’s been a really wonderful by-product of (the storyline).

“Cancer is something that touches everyone. I’ve had a lot of messages and letters from people who have been through it or who are going through it or who have lost people, who found it very helpful as it’s been over a long period of time and well-researched and beautifully written.

“They’ve found real solace.

“Some people said they haven’t been able to watch it which I can respect.

“I’m really proud of it, of what we’ve done with Hayley, the cancer storyline but it’s been a massive year of change but it’s great.

“I’m at the Royal Exchange now and I’m loving it and life goes on.

“That’s the key to happiness.”

Having filmed her final Corrie scenes in November, Julie is now working on two plays at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.

The theatre’s acclaimed production of Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster is returning from February 26 to March 8 following its sell-out run when it premiered last year.

A moving response to the death of the 20-year-old gap-year student, who was attacked by a gang in Bacup because she was dressed in gothic clothes, Julie will reprise the role of Sophie’s mum Sylvia.

She said: “We could’ve filled the theatre that many times last year but we could only do it for the time we had.

“Crucially, we’re going to take it on tour to different communities which is absolutely where it needs to go.

“Then we’re taking it to London so that’ll be fun.

“Obviously that was an incredible project to be part of. Everyone who came to see it was really affected by it because of the story and the beautiful writing.

“The more people that can see it, the better so that more people can know about Sophie.”

From January 23 to February 15, Julie will star in the Royal Exchange’s world premiere of new play Blindsided by Simon Stephens — a devastating play about families, obsessive love and betrayal.

Julie said: “It’s all very exciting.

“Having the chance to be here and doing this incredible play because Simon Stephens is such a well-regarded playwright.

“To be able to come straight out of Corrie into this is amazing.”

To sign the pancreatic cancer petition, visit

Tickets for the Bop Local Xmas Party will cost £7 on the door.