Skip to main content

Home Culture Culture Film & TV

Eastenders’ first ever gay character is making a comeback

By Will Stroude

A true soap trailblazer will be making his return to Eastenders later this year.

Lord Michael Cashman, who hit the Albert Square as the soap’s first ever gay character Colin Russell back in 1986, has confirmed that he’ll be reprising his role after 27 years away from the show.

While show bosses are keeping schtum about the details of his reappearance, we do know that Colin’s return will impact Eastenders legend Dot Cotton (June Brown) in some way.

Back in the ’80s, Dot was portrayed as uncomfortable with Colin’s sexuality, at a time when stigma surrounding homosexuality and HIV/AIDs was at a high.

Lord Cashman, who is gay in real life and went on to co-found LGBT rights charity Stonewall in 1989 following the introduction of Section 28, sparked a national dialogue when Colin was involed in the the soap’s first same-sex kiss.


“It was a real joy, indeed a privilege, to return to my old home of Albert Square,” the 65-year-old said of his return to the show.

“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”.

“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.

Lord Cashman is currently set to appear in just two episodes, which will air later this month.

LGBT storylines continue to feature prominently on the BBC soap, with Ben Mitchell (Harry Reid) currently planning to exact his revenge on boyfriend Paul Coker’s (Jonny Labey) homophobic killers.

More stories:
Meet the men looking for love on new gay dating show ‘Finding Prince Charming’
Watch the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2 queens make their entraces