Cropper, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh, was terminally ill with the pancreatic cancer that had been affecting her for months, and had chosen to kill herself rather than let the disease take her.
However, in a plot twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan, the once-tepid Hayley did not commit suicide, but instead burst out of her house in the final episode wielding two assault rifles and a fistful of grenades.
Watched from the windows by her beloved husband Roy Cropper (played by David Nielsen), the first transgender character to appear in a British soap wrecked havoc on Coronation Street, shooting to kill any unfortunates who strayed in her path.
The 2-part episode ran for a total of 120 minutes, of which 100 minutes was a tense siege between the Croppers and the SAS, culminating in the detonation of a pipe-bomb by Hayley “Trigger-Happy” Cropper that blew Croppers, coppers, and cobbles to smithereens.
Both Nielsen and Hesmondhalgh were praised for their “sensitive and responsive acting”, with Nielsen’s apparent ease around firearms particularly praised.
“When Roy shouldered the bazooka, I was worried that the soap may have overstepped itself” wrote Daily Mail reviewer Tim Henner, “but it soon became clear that Roy was perfectly comfortable with firearms, and I was able to settle down and enjoy the rest of the gunfight.”
Over 30 extras were drafted in to play the corpses of innocent bystanders in last night’s episode, and the SAS team included real members of the army “in case things got a bit out of hand”.
Now she has left the soap, Hesmondhalgh will appear in Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre’s play ‘Blindsided’, before cameoing in the next Die Hard film.