Coronation Street criticised for covering cross

A clergyman today branded as "ludicrous" a decision by Coronation Street crew members to cover up a church cross during filming for fear that it could offend viewers.

Producers of the popular soap chose the 14th century St Mary's Church in Nether Alderley, Cheshire, as the location for this week's wedding between Tyrone Dobbs and Molly Compton.

During the shoot, staff on the show were so concerned that a solid brass cross on the church's altar could cause upset that they asked for it to be removed.

The cross was firmly bolted down, however, and instead had to be hidden with an imposing candelabra, tumbling ivy and fake flowers.

Rev James Milnes, of St Mary's Church, said: "We thought it was a very strange request. This is a quintessentially English church - who would be offended by seeing a cross here?

"It's what people would expect to see, just as you see meat in a butcher's shop or fruit and vegetables in a greengrocer's."

He added: "It was ludicrous. We just thought it was political correctness gone mad."

The church, which has appeared in a number of TV series and period dramas, was used by Coronation Street in late November and early December to film the wedding, which aired on Monday.

Rev Milnes, 29, said he plans to use the £4,600 filming fee from Granada Television to purchase a solid silver processional cross.

"It's quite a fitting way to spend the money. We don't want to cover up the thing that's central to the Christian faith."

A spokesman for Coronation Street admitted that hiding the cross was "an error".

He said: "We are looking into how and why this happened. As Rev Milnes rightly says, we chose the church because the characters of Molly and Tyrone wanted a traditional religious church wedding service in a quintessentially English church.

"Covering up the cross was an error and we apologise for any upset this has caused."

Stephen Regan, director of communications for the Diocese of Chester, said: "The cross is universally accepted as a symbol of Christianity and should offend no-one.

"Christianity and Christian characters are quite often featured in both Coronation Street and in EastEnders, so why the makers of the Street should object to a cross featuring during a Christian wedding service does not make much sense.

"Certainly, Christians throughout the Diocese of Cheshire continue to revere the cross as a symbol of hope and faith."