Ambridge prepares for its first gay kiss

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That's one small snog for a man, a giant leap for The Archers. BBC radio's 53-year-old soap opera, hitherto an "everyday story of country folk", will feature its very first gay kiss next month.

The clinch takes place between Adam Macy, Ambridge's first central homosexual character, and Ian Craig, the new chef at the Grey Gables hotel. The nature of radio guarantees the scene will not be too explicit, but there will be what one insider described as "audible" oral contact between the men. Whether it is that, or some deft work by the sound effects department, will, perhaps, become clear in time.

The show's producers have avoided depicting homosexual contact until now, worrying that such scenes could frighten the programme's traditionally conservative audience, not to mention the horses. The Archers started in 1951 and is Britain's longest-running radio show, attracting five millions listeners to each of its six weekly episodes.

The producers admit that the gay kiss is likely to provoke strong reactions but insist that such issues need to be tackled. And the publicity might help the listening figures, too.

While the embrace is likely to be the first to feature in a radio soap-opera, gay kisses are old hat on television drama series. Gay lovers have been embracing on EastEnders since 1989, while Anna Friel's lesbian kiss broke new ground for Brookside back in 1995.

In October, Coronation Street came under fire for a scene in which characters Todd Grimshaw and Nick Tilsley kissed. The Independent Television Commission ruled against the criticism, saying the scene did not go further than had previously been shown in a television drama.

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