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JUST WHY WE GET SO CLOSE TO OUR SOAP FAMILIES... latest news at Six Comment&Analysis E- Politics, comment and analysis edited by Tryst Williams Calls.

Byline: RACHAEL MISSTEAR West Wales Editor

TOP 10 TEAR-JERKING SOAP EXITS CORONATION Street fans have been warned to get their hankies ready for what is being touted as one of soap land's most tear-jerking exits ever.

Avid Corrie fans feared they would see Hayley Cropper, who is battling terminal cancer, bowing out from the show on Christmas Day. But Hayely, Coronation Street's first transgender character, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh was allowed to enjoy her last Christmas with devoted husband Roy Cropper (David Neilson).

It will make her exit all the more poignant when it comes to its final sob-inducing New Year ending possibly as early as this week - after a poignant storyline that has run throughout the year.

Psychologists have warned that such endings can leave viewers experiencing feelings of grief, having endured characters' ups and downs regularly in their living rooms over many years.

Hayley has been at the heart of Weatherfield since she first arrived on screen as a long-suffering cafe waitress 15 years ago. Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh resigned in January before it was revealed that Hayley was ill with pancreatic cancer.

Pembrokeshire-based psychologist Dr Emma York said some viewers will experience feelings of grief when the character bows out. "As generally very social creatures we enjoy learning about the complex relationships between characters," she said. "It is one of the things that also makes reality TV shows like I'm a Celebrity and Big Brother so popular.

"Many people watch soaps because it pleases us to see and pleasure. In a voyeuristic manner, we like to watch other people's lives, as, in the case of soap operas, they are just like ours, but more interesting.

"Audiences often gain pleasure in finding their own sense of personal identity - who they are and what place they have in the world, together with a sense of belonging. Many viewers also watch soaps as they are able to identify with many of the characters, sharing opinions, lifestyle and experiences."

JACK DUCKWORTH Coronation Street 2010 AFTER 31 years in Weatherfield, Corrie fans were devastated to see long-term resident Jack Duckworth leave the street for good. Played by Bill Tarmey, he was known for his long marriage to Vera, another beloved character on the street. Known as a loveable rogue and his fondness for pigeons, Jack's exit was aired on November 8, 2010, showing him finally reunited with a ghost-like Vera, who passed away on the show years before. 11.64 million viewers tuned in to see Jack's final appearance with critics calling it one of Coronation Street's most moving moments.

PAULINE FOWLER EastEnders 2006 THERE wasn't a dry eye in the house when EastEnders' legendary matriarch Pauline Fowler shuffled off this mortal coil and joined the great laundrette in the sky. Played by the late Wendy Richard, Pauline was killed off in an episode that aired on Christmas Day 2006, when she collapsed in the middle of Albert Square. Poor Pauline, who made her first appearance in February 1985, died of a brain haemorrhage in the snow - not in the bosom of her loving family, but out in the cold, alone. The episode was watched by an estimated 10.7 million viewers.

ETHEL SKINNER EastEnders 2000 EASTENDERS veteran Ethel first delighted audiences with her eccentric style, double entendres and larger-than-life antics in 1985. Along with her cherished pug, Willy, Ethel graced Albert Square throughout the '80s and '90s - fending off a string of dogunfriendly suitors. Her character was revived in 2000 for a heart-rending story line in which it emerged she had terminal cancer and appealed to life-long friend and Walford regular Dot Cotton to help her end her life. After much soul-searching, devoutly Christian Dot agreed to help Ethel die with dignity on the night of her 85th birthday.

BRANDON MONK Pobol y Cwm 2011 AFICIONADOS of the Welshlanguage soap will recall how tragedy struck in Pobol y Cwm following a fire in the flat above Cwmderi's chip shop (Y Sosban Chips). Poor Brandon suffered a heart attack in hospital following the fire. Brandon's death sparked outcry online as fans lamented the loss of what some described as "the Cwm's best character, by a mile".

ARTHUR FOWLER Eastenders 1996 ARTHUR (Bill Treacher) was one of the show's original characters. But the dependable amateur gardener, bossed and hen-pecked by his mother-inlaw Lou and wife Pauline, ended up going to prison after stealing Christmas Club money to pay for Michelle's wedding, and even became an improbable adulterer. Arthur suffered a mental breakdown in prison, dying from a brain haemorrhage a few days after his release in 1996 as he tended his allotment.

ALMA HALLIWELL Coronation Street 2001 MUCH?LOVED character Alma was featured as a recurring character from 1981-1982 but was reintroduced as a regular in 1988 and remained in the show for a further 13 years, some of it as part of a love triangle with Ken Barlow and Alma's future husband Mike Baldwin. After actress Amanda Barrie decided to leave the series in 2001, Alma received devastating news - a misdiagnosis, combined with a missed smear test at the hospital, meant she had developed cervical cancer that had extended to such a degree, that even if she did receive treatment it wouldn't do any good. Not wanting to die in hospital, she passed away peacefully in her home.

JIM ROBINSON Neighbours 1993 SAD mainly because it marked the end of an era, Neighbours veteran and patriarch Jim Robinson suffered a fatal heart attack and collapsed in very dramatic fashion on the kitchen floor. In real life, actor Alan Dale was departing after falling out with the producers over pay and he accused them of leaving him lying on the floor all day as he filmed his final scene. Shortly after collapsing on screen, his heartless partner Fiona Hartman initially tries to save him but seeing the pound signs, she decides to ring the bank to withdraw all his money instead of calling an ambulance.

BENNY HAWKINS Crossroads 1987 HIS last appearance was not recorded but here he is on YouTube talking to Diane Lawton in 1986 : One of the strangest and most underplayed exits of a popular soap opera character came in 1987 when much loved, child-like Benny from Midlands-based soap Crossroads put the fairy on top of the Crossroads Motel Christmas tree in 1987 and was never seen again. It was as much a tear-jerker in its own way as some of the grander soap exits. Benny Hawkins (played by Paul Henry) whose trademark was a woolly hat worn all year round was befriended by Crossroads regular "Miss Diane" Lawton (Sue Hanson) and when the character died earlier in 1987 from a brain haemorrhage he named a donkey after her.

MATTHEW AND EMILY FARNHAM Brookside 1997 IN one of the now defunct Liverpool soap's most heartbreaking storylines, parents Susannah and Max faced the loss of both their children after mum Susannah crashed her car. The agonising grief unravels slowly as Matthew dies first, while Emily is seriously ill in hospital. Dealing with the grief of their son, mum Susannah can't help but blame herself before hearing, with her husband, the gut-wrenching sound of her daughter's life monitor beeping the flat indication that she too has died. Parents across the country wept.

MADGE BISHOP (formerly Ramsay) Neighbours 2001 IT was one of the most heartbreaking deaths in the Aussie soap's history. When one half of the golden couple in Aussie soap-land died, it left an army of fans bereft. How would Harold Bishop go on without his beloved Madge? In 2001 actress Anne Charleston decided to leave and, with Ian Smith wanting to stay, it meant the death of Madge. After a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, the Bishops planned a trip to Paris together but after she contracted septicaemia, Madge's time was cut short and she passed away in her bedroom with Harold lying by her side.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 29, 2013
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