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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 20:47 GMT 21:47 UK
Gay life finally hits Corrie's cobbles
by Michael Osborn
BBC News Online

Corrie's first gay kiss
Corrie's first gay kiss: Todd makes his move on Nick
After 43 years on our screens, vintage soap opera Coronation Street has featured the first gay storyline to grace its hallowed cobbles.

On Sunday evening, viewers saw Todd Grimshaw snatching a kiss from snoozing blond heart-throb Nick Tilsley, triggering a malestrom of sexual confusion.

Britain's oldest series is playing catch-up, for its main rivals have long since featured gay characters as part of the fabric of their fictional everyday life.

EastEnders first broke the soap mould back in 1986, when yuppie Colin and barrow boy Barry came into Albert Square, where they went about their business with little fanfare.

And there was a blaze of publicity in 1994 when Brookside's Beth Jordache and Margaret Clemence locked lips in a smooch which had everyone talking.

Corrie's first dabbling with homosexuality will see Todd - played by Bruno Langley - rejected by Nick (Adam Rickitt) and question his relationship with teenage mum Sarah Platt.

First time

But for a soap opera that was created by openly gay man Tony Warren, there has been an absence of homosexual characters gracing the streets of Weatherfield.

I'm glad that the first gay character isn't a screaming queen sipping cocktails in the Rovers dressed in pink Lycra
Coronation St writer Daran Little

"We didn't want to bring in a gay character just for the sake of it," a Coronation Street spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

"We've waited until it came out of a character that's already central to the street. We haven't seen these feelings from Todd before - it's the first time he's acted upon them," she added.

Coronation Street writer Daran Little is gay, and says he was reluctant to create a gay storyline because he didn't want to appear as if he had jumped on a soap box.

"When asked why there wasn't a gay character in Corrie, I used to quote Tony Warren, whose answer was 'The Street is camp enough,'" he explained.

Warren had a point, with brassy, bouffanted barmaid Bet Gilroy and tragic soap siren Elsie Tanner heading the queue of characters who possessed a certain flair.

Potential

"I'm glad that the first gay character isn't a screaming queen, sipping cocktails in the Rovers dressed in pink Lycra," added Little.

Radio Times soap columnist Alison Graham thinks Coronation Street is handling the story very well - but admits she doesn't know why it has taken them so long.

EastEnders gay character Colin
Colin (Michael Cashman) was the first gay character in EastEnders back in 1986
"If Todd suddenly leapt out of the closet as a fully-formed gay man it would be laughable," she said.

"Corrie doesn't just parachute people in for a few weeks to then disappear again."

"They wouldn't just have the kiss and then forget about it. The potential is there for this story to run on. It doesn't just feel like they're ticking a box."

The world's longest-running soap's first gay outing is up against the ongoing fallout from Dirty Den's sensational return in Albert Square.

A same-sex kiss in Weatherfield will prove less shocking than a return from the grave, but this first may create a long-running gay storyline which has been well worth waiting for.




SEE ALSO:
First gay kiss for Street
22 Aug 03  |  Entertainment


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