EastEnders is to open its first gay bar as part of new producer Kate Oates’s vision of increasing diversity in the show.
Speaking about her plans for 2019 in a viewer Q&A session on the soap’s official social media, the former Emmerdale and Coronation Street boss addressed the issue of reflecting a diverse, multicultural London.
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In addition to bolstering the Ahmed family in the shape of sisters Habiba and Iqra, bringing back Mitch Baker and introducing his and Karen Taylor’s mixed race daughter Chantelle, Oates also revealed the LGBTQ community may not be as under represented as it currently is with plans for a new location.
“I’m interested in bringing some LGBTQ characters in and looking at opening a gay bar on the Square, a super-cool precinct where gay and straight characters can hang out and loads of stories can cross.
“It will be something fun, exciting, visual and true to multicultural London,” she continued. “It is an important move for the show to authentically reflect modern London life.”
The new venue is set to be a cool alternative to traditional local boozer the Queen Vic, but where will the bar be based? The Albert is still empty after Vincent Hubbard was forced to sell it to gangster Aidan Maguire last year, and the future of the E20 club is under threat as the power struggle between Mel Owen and Ray Kelly ramps up this week. Could the new hang-out take the place of either of those locales?
The announcement is sure to be welcomed by sections of the audience who feel LGBTQ representation among the cast is not perhaps as high as it was a few years ago, with Tina Carter (Luisa Bradshaw-White) among the few openly gay characters, although teenager Bernadette Taylor (Clair Norris) is currently at the centre of a coming out storyline as she falls for best friend Tiffany Butcher (Maisie Smith). Could Ben Mitchell or Jonny Carter be among the returnees Oates has teased for the new year to bring more diversity to Walford?
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