Long-running soap Neighbours featured its first ever male gay kiss this week and executive producer Susan Bower said she is 'proud' of how the show presented it.
The episode, aired first in Australia before it hits UK screens in May features a high school party where couple Chris Pappas (James Mason) and Adan Foster (Bob Morley) kiss. Bower told the Herald Sun: 'It's not sensationalist or token - we are very proud of the way we have done this.'
One of the actors in the couple, who are both straight in real life, said they put a lot of practice into trying to make the kiss seem natural. Morely said: ‘James and I put a lot of time and effort into getting the physicality between our characters right. We didn't want to come across as two straight guys pretending to be gay.’
The soap featured a lesbian kiss between the soap’s first openly gay character Lana Crawford and mainly straight Sky Mangal, in 2004. The moment attracted criticism from Christian groups. ‘It just saddens me that we give our young people the message that these relationships are OK,’ said Peter Stokes, chief executive of Christian group Salt Shakers at the time.
Neighbours, which has been called the whitest, straightest street in the world is well behind its international counterparts. The UK’s Eastenders featured a kiss between gay characters Barry Clark and Colin Russell in 1989, before Liverpool-set Brookside aired UK TV’s first lesbian kiss in 1993. In the US, the first daytime TV gay male kiss is attributed to characters Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer on soap As the World Turns in August 2007.