entertainment

'EastEnders' 'to air its first ever Pride parade' in special episode

The landmark episode will coincide with Pride in London in the first week of July.

2019-05-01

Words: Will Stroude

EastEnders is reportedly set to break new ground with its first ever onscreen Pride parade this summer.

The BBC drama, which famously aired the first same-sex kiss on a British soap 30 years ago, is reportedly gearing up for a special episode celebrating gay equality to coincide with Pride in London in July.

The move comes as part of plans by executive producer Kate Oates to make Albert Square more reflective of modern day east London, where the soap is set.

A show source told The Sun: “It’s going to be a huge event on the Square filled with joy.

"Kate thought that with Walford’s London identity it was a natural fit to tie in the two.

"But, as with any event on Albert Square, there is certain to be plenty of drama happening alongside the celebration."

A spokesman for LGBTQ rights charity Stonewall welcomed the news, saying: "It’s been more than 30 years since EastEnders featured the UK’s first on-screen same-sex kiss. So it’s great to hear Walford will be celebrating Pride."

Oates, who brought back long-standing gay character Ben Mitchell earlier this year following a sixth(!) recast, previously announced bosses were hoping to introduce a gay bar would as part of the EastEnders set, three decades after the famous 1989 kiss between Colin Russell (Michael Cashman) and Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) sparked homophobic outrage in the British tabloid press.

The same-sex kiss between Colin Russell (Michael Cashman) and Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) on EastEnders in 1989 was the first broadcast on a British soap.

"I am really interested in brining some more LGBTQ characters in, and maybe we will have a new precinct for them as well," Oates said during a Twitter Q&A last year.

"We are looking at opening a gay bar on the square which will be a super-cool precinct where gay and straight characters can all just hang out and loads of stories can cross and should just be something really exciting, really fun, really visual and feel really true to multicultural London.

Former Waterloo Road star Max Bowden took on the role of long-standing gay character Ben Mitchell earlier this year.

"Hopefully that will be something exciting for the next year."

The Pride in London parade is set to take place on Saturday 7 July this year, with a 'Jubilee' theme to mark 50 years since the Stonewall riots, the famous New York protest which sparked the birth of the modern gay rights movement.

For more information and to find out how you can get involved, click here.