Remembering Eileen and Gail’s iconic ‘gay son’ Corrie catfight as Helen Worth announces departure

Gail and Eileen brawl in the street in a Corrie episode from 2004 (ITV)

It’s a sad, momentous day for Coronation Street fans – as one of the ITV soap’s longest-serving actors, Helen Worth, has announced she’s leaving the famous cobbles at the end of this year.

Helen Worth has played the absolute icon that is Gail Rodwell, aka Gail Platt, aka Gail Tilsley (she’s had five husbands) since 1974, and one of the most entertaining elements of her time on the street has been her long-running feud with neighbour Eileen Grimshaw, who she’s fought with on and off for 20 years.

The feud initially came to a head in 2024 when Eileen’s son Todd abandoned his university course to shack up with Gail’s daughter Sarah-Louise, who had a baby – Bethany – when she was just 13.

Sarah and Todd got engaged, but then Todd came out as gay when Sarah was seven months pregnant with her second child… leading to arguably one of the most iconic catfights in Coronation Street history.

But Sarah reconciled with Todd, who started an affair with his Weatherfield hospital colleague Karl Foster.

When the affair was exposed, Gail hurled herself out of her house in her dressing gown to have an incredibly public confrontation with Eileen in the middle of the street, controversially branding Todd a “pervert” suggesting that he “wasn’t normal” and that he would be after her thirteen year old son David next. Wow.

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When the episode was repeated in February 2024, the Metro reports that ITV cut some of the original scene’s homophobic language to avoid offending viewers.

However, some people complained about the scene being edited, with one man tweeting: “Coming from a gay man, we don’t need this mollycoddling. I don’t think any of this would even be cut from current episodes if the same dialogue were repeated. Please stop doing this.”

Coronation Street has led the way with LGBTQ+ representation over the years. Way back in 1998, the soap introduced its first transgender character, Hayley Cropper. And in 2023, Corrie aired its first same-sex wedding when gay archdeacon Billy Mayhew, wed his on-screen fiancé Paul Foreman (Peter Ash).

In 2019, lesbian couple Rana (Bhavna Limbachia) and Kate (Faye Brookes) came close, but their wedding day ended in devastation when the former was caught in a roof collapsing incident and died. Ouch.

Why is Helen Worth leaving Coronation Street?

She’s explained in a statement that the time just felt right: fifty years is an impressive amount of time to stay in any job, after all.

She said: “This year felt like the perfect time to leave the show after celebrating 50 years in the most wonderful job on the most wonderful street in the world. I made the decision at the start of the year and spoke to the producers who were very kind and understanding.

“I have been truly blessed to have been given the most incredible scripts week in week out, and to have worked with fantastic actors, directors and a brilliant crew.”

How will Gail be written out of Coronation Street?

At the time of writing, this is highly classified, top secret ITV information. All we know so far is that her exit will follow what has been described as “a major storyline for the Platt family” and the scenes will be filmed next month. Who will Eileen Grimshaw scrap with in the middle of the road now?!

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