‘Nation’s favourite lesbian’ Brooke Vincent reveals worry over ‘coming out’ on Corrie at Manchester Pride event

Coronation Street star Brooke Vincent jokingly dubbed herself ‘the nation’s favourite lesbian’ at last night’s flagship Pride Fringe event.

Coming Out – From Script to Screen was a panel discussion led by cheeky and charming Corrie writer Damon Rochefort, who sat alongside Brooke and Tony Warren, the genius who created the show.

Also at the head table was actor Antony Cotton and writers Jonathan Harvey and Debbie Oates who discussed the evolution of LGBT characters and audiences over Coronation Street’s 54 year history.

Brooke was initially told that her character Sophie Webster was a lesbian when she was 16 and although the story didn’t break until she was 18, Brooke admitted to the packed Lowry crowd that she did feel overwhelmed.

“My first thought was ‘why me? I’m not gay’, I don’t know what I’m meant to feel or how I’m going to get it right,” she said.

“I don’t think I realised how big the storyline was or how many people it would help.”

“I’ve been called the ‘nation’s favourite lesbian’, and I’m really proud!”

Brooke has been in the soap since she was 11 and her relationship with Sian, played by Sacha Parkinson, broke new ground for the soap and challenged audience’s perceptions of lesbian relationships.

Coronation Street assistant director Clare Woody gave Brooke some advice when she was nervous about portraying Sophie’s journey.

“I was just told it’s just a love story, between two friends who happen to be both girls,” she said.

Brooke expressed her sympathy for co-star and friend Anthony Cotton who revealed that he has received regular abuse from viewers since his character Sean first burst on to our screens in 2003.

Anthony said: “I get a lot of stick from people who say, and these are people who are 21 years old, ‘you’ve put the gay cause back 21 years’.

“Or they say ‘you’re a disgrace to this village’. You’d be surprised how many kids say that to me.

“When it was announced I was going into Corrie an online petition was set up to have me sacked because people said I was going to put the gay cause back 25 years.  That was six months before I even appeared on screen.”

Brooke confirmed that this was the case and discussed a time when the two of them went for a night on the town and he received negative comments.

She said: “We were out and someone said something to him and he just went off on one for about an hour!”

Over the last eleven years Anthony’s character has seen bust ups, break ups and even a baby whilst sewing more knickers in the underwear factory to fill an Agent Provocateur ten times over.

His larger than life antics have clearly divided some people, but Anthony said in defence of his character: “Sean has never had to explain who he was, he never had to come out, he was just accepted into the community of Weatherfield from the start.

“So for every one of those people who say to me that Sean’s a stereotype, and that he doesn’t have a political storyline, actually the fact he’s never had to explain himself makes him the most political gay character in soap.”

Coronation Street creator Tony Warren went down a real treat telling fans that he stood on top of a filing cabinet and refused to come down until his bosses at Granada let him write about something he knew about.

He offered a fascinating insight into gay life in the 1960’s, his frustrations about being unrepresented in the soap that he dreamt and ‘bully boy writers’ who came on board once he had to establish a writing team.

He also revealed that when the soap first started, he had to speak out in conferences against homophobic language being used and refusing to have anti-gay jokes in the script.

He said: “I remember sitting in a script meeting and hearing these men describe one actor as a poof, a storyline described as poofy, I just said to them ‘without a poof none of you would be in work this morning’.

“It was a case of if you’re saying something about my brothers, you are saying something about me, and I hadn’t realised I felt that way until that point.”

Image courtesy of OKMagazine, via YouTube, with thanks

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