Top UK soap EastEnders axed a romance between two gay characters in the 1980s due to the introduction of vile homophobic legislation.
The soap caused public outrage in 1987 when it aired a relationship between characters Barry Clark and Colin Russell. The couple shared the first ever same-sex kiss in a British soap opera — a simple kiss on the forehead — but tabloids immediately branded the show “filth” and “EastBenders”.
Actor Gary Hailes, who played Barry, has now revealed that their relationship was expected to progress much further, including Barry coming out to his family and receiving homophobic backlash, but the storyline was axed after the government passed “Section 28.”
As then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said in 1987, “Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay.”
Speaking on the Distinct Nostalgia podcast, Hailes said EastEnders abandoned the gay plotline in December 1987 “because of Section 28.”
“The BBC found themselves in a difficult position. They had to be seen to be doing right by the law,” he said of the broadcaster. “There was stuff we shot of Barry coming out to his dad and the backlash. They changed it and that helped put the brakes on what they could do with the characters.”
He added: “Like Romeo and Juliet they were not allowed to be together.””
Colin (Michael Cashman) and Barry (Gary Hailes) — Photo: BBC