Past and present Coronation Street stars have reportedly complained about the “disproportionate” number of gay characters in the soap.

Last week, art critic Brian Sewell wrote in the Daily Mail: “Is it true that the lives of heterosexual Mancunians are haplessly intertwined with transvestites, transsexuals, teenage lesbians and a horde of homosexuals across the age range? Is Manchester now the Sodom of the North?”

Jean Alexander, the actress who played Hilda Ogden until 1987, said in a recent interview: “Every community has people who are gay and they are very nice people. I’m not running the Street down – and let’s not forget its creator Tony Warren is gay – but three couples seems excessive.”

Nick Cochrane, who played Andy McDonald, said: “How many streets in Britain would have schoolgirl lesbians, gay married couples, a transsexual and children to gay couples? It is a little bit far-fetched.”

Andrew Lancel, who plays Frank Foster, was reportedly by the Daily Star as saying: “I believe there are too many gay people on Coronation Street.

“If you walked down any street in Manchester you wouldn’t see so many. It is disproportional.”

But the actor then told Twitter followers that the quotes were “considerably different to everything I’ve been saying recently”.

The soap currently has a lesbian couple, a gay couple and a transgender woman. The cast has attended Manchester Pride, while some stars have gone into schools to discuss anti-gay bullying.

Last week, gay charity Stonewall argued that Coronation Street had a representative number of gay characters.

A spokesman said: “Given that the government estimates that six per cent of the population are lesbian, gay or bisexual it isn’t inconceivable that a number of the 66 current Corrie characters are LGB.

“And with Wetherfield just a short tram ride away from Manchester it’s easy to argue the show is more reflective of modern Britain than ever before, which is why Corrie picked up Stonewall’s Broadcast of the year trophy last year and remains one of the most watched TV shows on British screens.”