Soap creator gave housewives gay dialogue

Seth Ewin May 11, 2007
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The creator of the most watched soap opera in Britain has spoken out about homophobia at TV studios in the Sixties.

Tony Warren is the original writer of Coronation Street, one of the nations best loved soaps.

He revealed that the gay voices he heard on the streets made their way into the sharp-tounged female dialogue for which the soap is famed.

Mr Warren told an audience in Manchester that he came out before decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 and suffered abuse from other staff at Granada studios.

Speaking at a debate about whether Corrie is now the ‘queerest soap of them all’, Warren described the prejudice he had to put up with.

“On one occasion I sat there and listened and listened until I got to my feet and said, “I have sat here and listened to three poof jokes, an actor described as a poof, a storyline described as too poofy, and I would just like to remind you that without a poof you wouldn’t be in work.”

“One of them said, “but Tony, we didn’t mean you.”

“I said. “You call my brothers, you call me”.”

From then on he said: “I never pretended to anyone that I was anything other than what I am,” he said, according to the Manchester Evening News.

The debate, at Manchester’s Cornerhouse cinema, also featured current Corrie writers Jonathan Harvey and Damon Rochefort, as well as the soap’s Antony Cotton, who plays camp underwear factory worker Sean Tully.

When the show first began in 1960 it would have been unthinkable to have a gay character.

This didn’t prevent Warren putting language heard in Manchester’s gay village into the mouths of characters such as Elsie Tanner.

He said: “The gay village is not new. I’d known all these queens in the village.

“Some of them were sensational. I remember giving Elsie lines they would say.

“When you think of some of the things she came out with, how many straight women have you heard say that?”

When asked if Corrie is now the queerest soap of them all, Warren said: “Maybe now, yes. But we lagged disgracefully behind for a long time.

“But now, we’re hopefully queer enough,” he remarked, according to the Manchester Evening News.

In spite of a massive gay fan base the soap was well behind many other British soaps until 2003 when Todd Grimshaw finally kissed Nick Tilsley, played by gay pin-up and Tory candidate Adam Rickitt. Even then Todd was the only gay on the street.

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