Daniel Brocklebank, who plays gay vicar Billy Mahew in Coronation Street, has revealed that he has received verbal abuse from members of the public over his role and that the show’s producers have been criticised by religious groups for introducing the forward-thinking character to the soap. 

But the actor, who appeared in the Oscar-winning 1998 film Shakespeare In Love, says he’s unfazed by the backlash and hopes his storyline will change attitudes.

“We’re here to cause some sort of stir and you’re never going to please everyone,” says Daniel, who’s also appeared in Emmerdale and EastEnders. “Some of viewers aren’t been too happy about it. 

“A woman came up to me in a supermarket three days ago telling me I was going to go to hell playing a gay vicar.”

Daniel arrived on Coronation Street’s famous cobbles in December and his character has been involved in an on-off romance with Sean Tully (Antony Cotton).

A campaigner for gay rights, Daniel hopes having Billy in Corrie will change attitudes towards the church…

“Having a progressive vicar in Coronation Street provides the opportunity to educate people and give them a different point of view,” he says. “The church won’t survive if it doesn’t update. Religion should be all-loving. Why would someone gay of my age join the church when all you get is backlash?”