Producers of the UK soap Coronation Street posted a memo reminding cast and crew members that homophobic language would not be tolerated, after several anti-gay comments were made by staffers.
“We have just been made aware of several recent instances of homophobic remarks being made on the studio floor,” read the note, placed in several spots around the show’s Manchester studio. “We are sure the vast majority of people working on Coronation Street find such behavior unacceptable. But we’d like to make it absolutely clear that this is completely unacceptable. ITV has a bullying and harassment policy which clearly states that such behaviour may lead to disciplinary proceedings.”
While the exact content of the slurs is unknown, its believed they were directed at openly gay actor Antony Cotton, who plays barman Sean Tully on the show.
The Mirror claims producers addressed the issue so publicly because they worried that an “unpleasant culture” was developing on the set. A series insider told the paper:
This is an extremely worrying development. Coronation Street prides itself on being a tolerant and accepting place. One of our most popular actors, Antony Cotton, is gay and so is our outgoing executive producer Phil Collinson. We have had a number of gay characters on The Cobbles.
The fact people are making homophobic jokes on set is unacceptable. And what makes this even more worrying is it seems this was not an isolated incident. From what we know, a couple of members of crew were deeply offended by the kind of language being used by some people on set.
It is unclear whether it was crew or cast who were making the jokes, but it seems certain people were starting to make some really crude comments and that a nasty culture was developing.
We took the view that we had to nip this in the bud before it got out of control. It was a big call putting these notices up as we were aware there was every chance it could leak out, but the situation was serious enough we had to take action.
There is a duty of care to all our staff and none of them should be made to feel uncomfortable while they’re at work because of the behaviour of others.
Cast and crew alike have been left in no doubt that anyone who continues to use homophobic language will be severely disciplined. People caught in future face the real possibility of getting sacked. We have taken decisive action and are hoping this is the end of it.
Coronation Street, the world’s longest-running sudser, introduced its first regular gay character relatively late, in 2003. But more recently the show gave Cotton’s character, Sean, an on-screen relationship, and also introduced a young lesbian couple. Some cast members called the introduction of several LGBT characters “excessive.” “Fans love Corrie for its traditional values,” said former cast member Nick Cochrane. “I don’t think it’s the right platform to highlight so many gay issues all at the same time.”
We’re talking about two couples on a show that has, like, 800 characters.
Y’know, if Cochrane wasn’t off the show already, we’d hazard a guess he was the one who shot off his mouth.