Peter Ash waded into the debate around whether straight actors should play gay roles after Russell T Davies said he cast queer people in It’s a Sin for “authenticity”. (Peter Ash (L) (Twitter) and Russell T Davies (R) (Ken Jack/Getty)
A straight Coronation Street star, who plays a gay man on the soap, has decided that he is the authority on whether queer roles should be played by queer actors.
The never-ending debate around whether gay roles should be played by gay actors reared its head once again in the last week, with screenwriter Russell T Davies explaining that he cast queer actors in his new drama It’s a Sin because they would bring an “authenticity” to the show.
Peter Ash, who plays Paul Foreman on Coronation Street, promptly waded into the debate, sharing a screenshot of Davies’ interview, which was published with the headline: “Gay roles should be given to gay actors.”
Ash gracefully took the time to share a definition of acting, just in case Davies – who has created numerous groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed television series – doesn’t know what it is.
“Acting; the art or occupation of performing fictional roles in plays, films or television,” Ash tweeted alongside the screenshot of Davies’ interview.
Acting; the art or occupation of performing fictional roles in plays, films or television. pic.twitter.com/5Mcxwhei8b
— Peter Ash (@PeterAsh_85) January 12, 2021
Coronation Street fans quickly jumped in to agree with Ash. “I believe it should be based on who is the best person for the role 100 per cent,” one wrote.
“Surely a role like any other job should be given on ability and competence?” another tweeted.
One Twitter user replied: “I don’t understand why or how the sexual preference of a real life actor should interfere with how they play the role of a character? If we’re playing a murder, should we have experience of murder? This quote is a joke and a disappointment!”
Russell T Davies said authenticity leads us ‘to joyous places’
Davies ruffled feathers when he told Radio Times in an interview on Monday (11 January) that he wants “authentic” gay representation in television shows.
He said: “I’m not being woke about this… but I feel strongly that if I cast someone in a story, I am casting them to act as a lover, or an enemy, or someone on drugs or a criminal or a saint… they are not there to ‘act gay’ because ‘acting gay’ is a bunch of codes for a performance.
“It’s about authenticity, the taste of 2020.”
He added: “You wouldn’t cast someone able-bodied and put them in a wheelchair, you wouldn’t Black someone up. Authenticity is leading us to joyous places.”
The debate around whether straight actors should play gay roles rears its head every few months, and it appears to be a never-ending source of controversy.
In November, bisexual actor Kristen Stewart said she thinks it’s OK for straight actors who are allies to the LGBT+ community to play gay characters – as long as they do the work to understand that experience.
Stewart admitted that she thinks about the debate “all the time”, and added: “I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience.
“Having said that, it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law.”
“I think it’s such a grey area,” she added. “There are ways for men to tell women’s stories, or ways for women to tell men’s stories. But we need to have our finger on the pulse and actually have to care.”