“This is why no one watches Coronation Street,” PLA Jr will often (inaccurately) say. By “this,” she means that a lot of the characters are older people, some of them funny, frumpy, dowdy. The drama usually revolves around small-scale, human concerns.
There’s nobody frumpier and more dowdy than Roy and Hayley. Roy is eccentric, introverted and takes life almost painfully literally. Hayley struggled through a gender reassignment to become an odd little woman with a fine range of cardigans, a sly sense of humour and a heart as big as an ocean. They found each other, and the unit of “Roy and Hayley” turned into one of the most solid and realistic partnerships on TV.
And last night, the partnership ended when Hayley deliberately overdosed on her pain medication and slipped off the cast list in the hideously decorated bedroom that she’d happily shared with Roy all of those years. It was perfectly acted, obviously – Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson are both wonderful actors and they made sure that all of the complex, raw emotions of the situation were right there on their faces and in every tender touch. It was also beautifully written, with Hayley saying her goodbyes to the people close to her (with them unaware that it really was for the last time), ironing Roy’s best shirt so he’d look smart for her funeral. The final scene between Roy and Hayley was almost too painful to watch.
It was real and human, and this, in a nutshell, is why people watch Coronation Street.