When it was announced in April that Britain’s longest-running soap, Coronation Street, would be introducing its first black family, the response was one of shock and incredulousness. Lenny Henry simply tweeted “wow” at the news, while theatre director Matthew Xia asked: “How have the producers managed to get away with this for almost 60 years?”
Though Corrie introduced its first black character – Shirley Armitage, played by Lisa Lewis – in 1983, the arrival of the Baileys was a major step forward for the 59-year-old soap, coming almost 30 years after the Taverniers arrived in EastEnders’ Albert Square in 1990. The Bailey family would include the usual mix of high drama and plausibility – patriarch Edison with his gambling addiction, eldest son and wheeler-dealer Michael, youngest son James, a gay footballer, and kindly matriarch Aggie.
Read the feature in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 31/12/19]