EastEnders tackles Christian opposition to gay marriage with Dot Branning *SPOILERS*

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EastEnders carried on its homophobia storyline with Dot Branning and the return of Lord Michael Cashman as the soap’s first ever gay character this week.

The actor-turned-Labour MEP made his way back to Albert Square for two episodes.

Spoilers below – if you’re planning on catching the omibus on Sunday stop reading here!


In the first of the two episodes which aired on Friday, Lord Cashman’s Colin Russell character returned to invite Dot to his wedding, but in a shock twist, citing her Christian faith, Dot refused to attend.

In comments which drew audiences back to the 1980s, when Dot was less than accepting of the character, she said: “I can’t, it ain’t right. I don’t care if it’s legal, a marriage should be between a man and a woman.

“I wish you and your Eddy all the very best but I can’t be part of it.”

But in Friday’s episode it seems Dot changed her mind again, after a bit of persuasian from Lord Cashman’s character.

He says: “You were the first person who really accepted me. You got to know me and you saw beyond the gay stuff. We lived through it, Dot. Don’t you remember?

“When you went doolally when you found out me and Barry were sharing a bed?”

“I had to chase you round the square trying to give you an AIDS leaflet. And after all that, despite wrestling with your religion, you became my friend.”

Appearing at the wedding after a mention of Paul Coker, the character who was killed off in a shock homophobic attack earlier this year, Dots words were emotional.

She says: “I suppose you think I’m silly making such a fuss about going to that wedding and then changing my mind at the last minute. Well it’s a cause for celebration so cheers.

“They looked ever so happy, didn’t they? And Colin, oh he spoke his vows so beautifully. You know, I’m ever so sorry for saying I wouldn’t go to your wedding because I would because I love you.”

Lord Michael Cashman earlier this year revealed that he is returning to EastEnders as Colin Russell – 27 years after leaving the show.

Now photos have been released of Lord Cashman as Colin, returning to speak to Dot Cotton, played by June Brown.

Colin – who was the BBC soap’s first ever gay character – was last seen in Walford in February 1989.

The character first hit the headlines in 1987 when he had the first gay kiss in a British soap opera.

Show bosses are keeping details of Colin’s return top secret – but his visit is set to raise a big question for Dot Branning (June Brown) when he appears in two episodes next month.

“It was a real joy, indeed a privilege, to return to my old home of Albert Square,” Lord Cashman said.

“To be amongst so many friends again, and to be back in the place where 30 years ago I started an amazing journey, an amazing journey which incredibly helped to change the country, and certainly its attitude to lesbian, gay and bisexual people,” added.

“Arguably without EastEnders I would never have gone into politics; I would not have been one of the founders of Stonewall and its founding chair, and I would never have ended up where I am now.

EastEnders tackles Christian opposition to gay marriage with Dot Branning *SPOILERS*

Following his acting career, Lord Cashman – who co-founded Stonewall in 1989 – was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands in 1999, until 2014 when he was appointed to the House of Lords.

In the same year, former party leader Ed Miliband named him the party’s special envoy on LGBT issues – a position he recently quit under current leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Lord Cashman won a PinkNews Award in 2014, and picked up a posthumous award dedicated to his late civil partner Paul Cottingham.