Lord Michael Cashman makes surprise return to EastEnders after 27 years
Lord Michael Cashman will make a surprise return to EastEnders next month.
Long-term fans of the show will remember Cashman as the London-based soap’s first ever gay character, Colin Russell. He last appeared on the soap 27 years ago in February 1989.
The character is best known for his relationship with Barry Clark, with whom Colin shared the first ever gay kiss on a British soap opera in 1987. Colin and Barry’s normal and loving relationship has been credited with helping to dispel the myths and prejudices about homosexuality held by the public at the time.
It was not all plain sailing for Colin and Barry, however, as the pair faced prejudice from less enlightened inhabitants of Albert Square. One character particularly troubled by their relationship was devout christian Dot Cotton (now Branning), who was horrified when Barry casually mentioned his living arrangements during a chat at the launderette.
Their relationship will be visited once more in Colin’s latest appearance, which will raise a big question for Dot.
Cashman’s experience playing Colin was the start of a remarkable journey for the former child actor. Following his departure from the soap, Cashman co-founded LGBT charity Stonewall in 1989 and later went into politics. As a member of the European Parliament, he championed human rights and equality. In 2014, he joined the House of Lords.
Cashman credits EastEnders for his success, saying: “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.”
Speaking of his return, he said: “It was a real joy, indeed a privilege, to return to my old home of Albert Square. 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.”