Millions of viewers in the UK tuned in to watch the final scenes of one of its most popular characters Hayley Cropper in the long running soap Coronation Street. Viewers saw Hayley, played by actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, take an overdose after giving up her struggle with incurable cancer.The actress, who joined the soap in 1998 to play the Street’s first transsexual and won the hearts of the nation with her on-screen romance with cafe owner Roy, played by David Neilson, has also spoken out in support of the storyline. She said it had been “a responsibility” and “a real privilege” and said she had “always really understood Hayley’s decision”. The storyline is being played out as former lord chancellor Lord Falconer of Thoroton launches a bid to legislate on the controversial issue with his Assisted Dying Bill, which would enable terminally-ill patients to request assisted dying, subject to a range of safeguards. The Samaritans charity, which advised producers on the storyline, has warned that the scenes of Hayley’s death from a drug overdose could cause a risk of copycat suicides and Care Not Killing, a campaign group opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide, said the soap was “in great danger of normalising an occurrence that is actually very rare indeed”.