Russell T Davies, the writer of Queer As Folk and Doctor Who, has said that the representation of gay people on television is the best it has ever been.

He cited the arrival of a gay character on ITV soap Coronation St as evidence that times have changed.

Mr Davies, who included a bisexual character in Doctor Who, also praised teen soap Hollyoaks for its handing of a storyline where one of the characters deals with his sexuality.

Referring to the first gay kiss on a soap, on Eastenders in 1987, he told Radio Times:

“The thing about Eastenders’ Colin and Barry kissing was how exciting it was.

“Back then, EastEnders was huge, and to have two men showing affection was wonderful.

“Its legacy can be seen in Hollyoaks now. It’s telling the story of John-Paul and his realisation that he’s gay, and it’s doing it so beautifully.

“It’s really powerful and sending a message to teenagers that it’s okay to be gay. That’s brilliant.”

Mr Davies, who worked on another children’s programme, Children’s Ward, early in his career, said that now gay and lesbian characters are presented at complex people, rather than figures of ridicule.

He cited another kids show, Byker Grove, as a good example of how to include gay characters into drama.

“One of the best, most honest and sensitively told stories I’ve ever seen about gay people was in Byker Grove in around 1994 when Noddy realised he was gay. It was on Children’s BBC and there was almost no fuss about it.”

Mr Russell also praised the character of Sean Tully on Coronation St, the nation’s most popular soap.

Tully is played by Antony Cotton, who shot to fame as Alexander in Queer As Folk.

Coronation Street had a gay voice by dint of its female characters. You could luxuriate in, say, Bet Lynch’s loneliness. It wasn’t screaming out for a gay character, but Sean Tully’s a perfect fit. Putting him in the Rovers and the factory was genius.”

The next series of Torchwood, an adult spin-off of Doctor Who, will feature Buffy The Vampire Slayer star James Marsters and Ugly Betty, Neighbours and The OC actor Jim Dale.