Coronation Street star Peter Ash on gay actors playing gay roles: ‘My opinion stays the same’

Peter Ash plays gay character Paul Foreman in Coronation Street. (ITV)

As Peter Ash and Daniel Brocklebank made history in Coronation Street‘s first successful gay wedding, the onscreen couple have weighed in on the debate about whether only gay actors should play gay roles.

On Monday (2 October) night, Paul (Ash) and Billy (Brocklebank) tied the knot in not one, but two wedding celebrations: one at the Bistro and the second in church, in honour of the latter’s profession as an archdeacon.

The newlyweds now have to face up to Paul’s Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis and Billy’s suspension from the Church, following a homophobic backlash to the wedding ceremony. Both stars told PinkNews how “thrilled” they were to have blazed a trail for the ITV soap.

Making it down the aisle meant Paul and Billy succeeded where previous fan-favourite LGBTQ+ couples failed. Lesbian couple Kate and Rana didn’t make it down the aisle after the latter died shortly before the ceremony, while Sian and Sophie’s big day ended in a jilting at the altar.

Peter Ash as Paul (L) and Daniel Brocklebank as Billy (R) in Coronation Street.
Coronation Street’s Billy (L) and Paul tied the knot in Monday night’s episode. (ITV)

Peter Ash plays gay Coronation Street character Paul Foreman but is straight in real life

Peter Ash was first introduced to Coronation Street as Paul Forman in 2018, playing a prison inmate and the twin brother of Gemma Winter. He became a series regular in January 2019.

The actor is straight and has been in a relationship with nurse Amy Shawcross for almost five years.

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When, in 2021, It’s A Sin and Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies said queer actors brought an “authenticity”, Ash tweeted an image of news coverage of the remarks with the comment: “Acting, the art or occupation of performing fictional roles in plays, films or television.”

The comment received a mixed response from fans at the time.

Now, in an exclusive interview with PinkNews, Ash spoke about whether he still maintains this stance, with Brocklebank also sharing his own perspective.

“My opinion stays the same,” Ash said. “I’ve always thought, it is acting, [as long as] you can portray the role. Obviously there are certain parts where certain people will be, what’s the word?”

Which prompted Brocklebank to chip in with: “More knowledgeable.”

Out gay actor Daniel Brocklebank has played Corrie’s Billy Mayhew since 2014

Daniel Brocklebank, who is gay, then offered his own thoughts. “Our job, essentially, is to pretend to be people we’re not,” he said.

“If you’re saying that only gay people should play gay roles, if I, as a gay man, was turned down for a straight role because I was gay, wouldn’t that be deemed homophobic? It’s always been an interesting dichotomy.

“I understand that only a Black actor should play a Black character. That makes total sense when it’s an ethnicity-based casting choice, but you can’t necessarily see a sexuality.

“If somebody’s right for the role, what I do in my personal life should bear no relevance to the character I’m playing on screen, because they’re not me.”

Coronation Street airs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm on ITV1, except during the rugby World Cup.