Monday, May 22, 2006
Gayest Show in the World
Thanks Cara in Michigan who sent us this article from the Mirror site! Nice to hear from the American Corrie Canucks ;-)
13 May 2006
CORRIE IS THE GAYEST SHOW IN THE WORLD
EXCLUSIVE STREET'S CAMP BARMAN
By Claire Donnelly
MOVE over Bet Lynch - there's a new queen of Coronation Street. And Antony Cotton intends to reign supreme for some time to come.
He plays flamboyant gossip Sean Tully, who minces effortlessly between sewing knickers at Underworld and serving pints in the Rovers.
As the soap's first camp gay character, Sean has been a big hit with everyone from children to pensioners - and turned Antony, who is openly-gay in real life, into a pin-up for men and women alike.
"You can't even imagine what the reaction is like once you're in Corrie," says Antony, 30. "It's crazy. I get chatted up by girls and I get my a*** pinched by everyone, men and women. It doesn't bother me one bit.
"In a perverse way, I think there'd be even more interest if Sean was being played by some 25-year-old top telly totty hunk who was straight.
"It would be all, 'What's it like kissing a man when you're not gay?'"
Far from hating all the attention, he is revelling in it. Today, sitting in the sunshine and surveying the Street's famous cobbles, he looks like the cat that got the cream.
"This sounds awful, but I feel blessed at the moment," he confides. "I'm on top of the world, I really am."
And no wonder. This week he's up for a Best Actor gong at the Soap Awards for the second year running. Last year, he narrowly lost out to EastEnders' Shane Richie and it's clear he doesn't want to settle for second best again.
"It isn't the taking part that counts, it's the winning," insists Antony with a twinkle in his blue eyes. "It's amazing to be nominated but, yes, I want to win. It's going to be a great night."
Not only that but his role in Corrie is about to be beefed up by the introduction of Sean's family and stronger storylines.
In the first of these, Sean is thrown into turmoil when he tracks down his dad Brian (played by Auf Wieder-sehen, Pet star Tim Healy).
LIFE-LONG Corrie fan Antony only won the part through sheer luck and an awful lot of cheek.
After finding fame as Alex in the controversial 1999 Channel 4 drama Queer As Folk, he wrote to the Street's producers begging for a part.
His gamble paid off and he joined the show in August 2004. Antony knows he was lucky to come to Corrie when he did.
There had just been a gay storyline involving Todd Grimshaw - who realised he preferred blokes after getting Sarah Platt pregnant. And a character like Sean, who is as camp as Butlins, might not have gone down so well if that hadn't paved the way.
"The timing was right," says Antony. "Corrie couldn't have gone on without a gay character for much longer.
"Let's face it, it's the gayest show in the world, made in the gayest city in the world, so it really was overdue.
"A few years ago having a gay character and introducing a long-term boyfriend might not have worked. People would have thought, 'We don't need to see that'. Now it would work.
"Maybe there will be a big, gay Corrie wedding for Sean at some point. Now that men are getting married to each other and things have changed, who knows?
"Sean isn't always lucky in love but if someone asked him and loved him he could well go for it - so watch this space."
In his campest tones, he adds: "As I always say, Sean's got one foot in Elsie Tanner, one foot in Norris Cole and the world in between. And people like him for that, they want him to be happy.
"I even get letters from grannies asking when is he going to meet someone and get a nice boyfriend."
Growing up in Bury, Lancashire, with his older brother Andrew, now 31, Antony was a born performer.
At five he loved dancing around the house - "I was the real Billy Elliot," he laughs - and he began acting from the age of 10. At school, he won over the other children with his good nature and sense of humour.
"I didn't get bullied any more than anyone else at school," he says. "Maybe because if you're the one telling the jokes you don't get picked on." He was gay in his teens, and was nervous about coming out.
When he eventually plucked up the courage to tell mum Enid and dad Paul, they didn't bat an eyelid.
They just laughed and asked if he wanted a cup of tea.
"As a human being, it's one of those things you always know, then everything else fits into place later on," he explains.
"But my family are brilliant, so supportive of everything I do and they always have been."
Although happy to talk 19 to the dozen about most subjects, Antony remains tightlipped about his private life.
ANTONY, who has a long-term partner, says: "People are obsessed by who you leep with and what sex they are," he says.
"But I'm a firm believer in whatever you do - as long as it doesn't harm anybody - it's nobody else's business.
"If we lived in an ideal world, everybody would be able to sleep with everybody anyway. "Look at the Romans. It was a sign of wealth if you had a wife, a mistress and a houseboy - and they all slept in the same bed!"
Now he is in the public eye, he is keen to break into other areas of entertainment.
"I don't want to leave Corrie," he says, hastily. "But I'd love to do something else alongside it.
"I've got it all planned out - the autobiography, the chatshow - because, in case you haven't noticed, I do like to talk - writing, and a gameshow.
"It would be great to do a gay gameshow. I was born to do it."
Whatever he does, Antony will have the backing of his family and, in particular his mother, who he describes as inspirational. Seeing how despondent he got "between jobs", Enid got herself an agent and showed her son how it should be done.
THE former dressmaker began acting at the age of 54. Seven years on, as Enid unn, she has appeared in Phoenix Nights and Doctors, has just done a latenight episode of Hollyoaks and even been an extra in Corrie.
"I was at the Baftas last week and people kept saying, 'Ooh, I met your mum, isn't she lovely?'" says Antony, proudly. "She's so funny. We speak on the phone about four times a day. She'll be ringing me later to say, 'Is it sunny there?' and she only lives 15 miles away. "When mum started acting it was at one of those times when I was out of work and going through a lull. I don't think she wanted me to give up so, to be motivating, she said she was going to try it. My first reaction was, 'Yeah right'. The next thing I knew she'd got an agent and was off.
Now I can't imagine her stopping. "If there's a nuclear war, it will be my mum and Cilla Black who survive - she takes it all in her stride. "I don't know who I'm taking with me to the Soap Awards yet, but if it's my mum we'll have a good time.
"And I'm all set. I've got a new Paul Smith suit... Saying that, I might not wear the trousers, I might go for a ra-ra skirt or capri pants - that would make a good picture on the red carpet. I wonder what everyone would make of that. "But seriously, I am so chuffed at the way everything's going. I wake up every day just thinking, 'I love my life'. How good is that?"
You can vote for Coronation Steet in the British Soap Awards from noon Monday until 5pm Friday by visiting www.britishsoapawards.tv or itv.com.