Former Corrie star returns to TV in Russell T Davies drama

Julie Hesmondhalgh The actress won best serial drama performance at the National TV Awards in January

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Former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh is to star in Russell T Davies drama Cucumber.

The Channel 4 drama about gay life in the 21st Century is Hesmondhalgh's first TV role since she left the part of Hayley Cropper behind in January.

The series was announced last year but casting has only just been revealed.

Hesmondhalgh will join Freddie Fox and Vincent Franklin - who starred in The Thick Of It - in Cucumber, which is currently filming in Manchester.

The series will be aired in 2015.

Russell T Davies One of Davies's first jobs was a scriptwriter on ITV's Children's Ward

Davies, whose other credits include Queer as Folk and Doctor Who, is also working on a companion drama for E4, titled Bananas, which will follow the same characters.

Cucumber follows 46-year-old Henry (Franklin) and his long-suffering boyfriend Lance, whose lives are turned upside down after a disastrous date night.

Hesmondhalgh will play Henry's sister.

The actress from Accrington left the long-running ITV soap Coronation Street in January, after 16 years on the cobbles.

She said she had had "the most wonderful time" playing the Street's first transgender character but wanted to pursue new projects.

More than 10 million viewers tuned in to watch her character take her own life to end the pain of terminal cancer in a controversial plot in January.

Later that month, she starred in Simon Stephens' Blindsided at Manchester's Royal Exchange theatre, and received glowing reviews from several critics, although the play itself was less well received.

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