Brookside aired the first lesbian kiss on UK screens back in 1993 and since then other UK soaps have followed suit on showing gay relationships but for Neighbours it’s a first in their 27 years on air.
The Australian soap will show their first gay kiss between characters Chris Pappas and his boyfriend Aidan Foster.
It’s no wonder it’s taken the show so long to commit to screening a gay relationship; back in 2004, characters Sky Mangal and Lana Crawford were seen getting close as schoolgirls. The show received a wave of criticism for the portrayal of the two girls sharing a lesbian embrace.
It doesn’t look like the show will suffer the same fate this time though as the response in Australia, where’s the episode has already been shown, has been given the thumbs up by viewers who have praised the show on Twitter. UK viewers will have to wait till next month when the episode will be aired on Channel 5.
The soap’s executive producer, Susan Bower, said she wanted to tackle the issue sensitively, “It’s not sensationalist or token. We are very proud of the way we have done this.”
So sensitively has it been done that its been building up for a while with the character of Chris first having to admit to himself he was gay; despite having a relationship with a girl, Summer, and then the fear he faced telling all his friends especially the male friend he had a crush on, Andrew Robinson, and then telling his parents who weren’t so warming to his news at first, kicking him out of their home.
Both actors, who are straight in real life, said a lot of time and practice was put into the scene to make it more natural. Bob Morley who plays Aiden said, “James and I put a lot of time and effort into getting the physicality between our characters right. We didn’t want to come across as two straight guys pretending to be gay.”
UK viewers are not shy in voicing their opinions with last year prompting an outcry over a gay kiss in Holby City with characters Dan Hamilton (Adam Astill) and Antoine Malick (Jimmy Akingbola). Viewers blasted the show as being “inappropriate” while Eastenders also faced strong criticism over showing a scene before the watershed between lovers Christian Clarke (John Partridge) and Syed Masood (Marc Elliott) in bed.
It’s about time Neighbours got over their less than well received first take and we will definitely be tuning in to see the episode. The show has often been referred to as the whitest, straightest street in the world and hopefully this will be the first of many changes.
Recently, the show introduced an Indian family to the street, no doubt after many dubbed the show as presenting a “white Australia policy”. With it, came a race row over the actor who plays the Indian father. Some fans claimed it was “un-Australian” to cast actor Sachin Joab despite him being Melbourne born.
We love Neighbours, after all we grew up with it, but even though it’s technically a daytime soap, it still needs to move forward and tackle real life properly and we’re glad that includes ethnicity and modern day relationships.