Coronation Street star Chris Fountain has been suspended from the show after being exposed as the face behind a mysterious alter-ego - “totally unacceptable” rapper The Phantom.
Mr Fountain, who plays mechanic Tommy Duckworth, said he is “deeply ashamed of the lyrics” in the raps, which were recorded around a year ago but only exposed this week.
The songs include lines like: “I will f*** anybody up in the worst way, rape a b***h on her birthday,” and “I’m a motherf***ing demon, I’ll stab you in the face with a diseased needle.”
They appeared on YouTube, featuring Mr Fountain with his true identity hidden by a Halloween-style mask – half white, seemingly in a nod to the Phantom of the Opera – as well as a baseball cap and hoodie.
Pictures posted on the blog of hip-hop group West Yorkshire Cypher regularly included “The Phantom” around a year ago, and though the videos have now been made private, that wasn’t before The Sun was able to expose the rapper’s identity and inform his employers.
An apology has been issued in a statement from Mr Fountain, who starred as the love interest of Corrie star Michelle Keegan and has also been a contestant in ITV’s Dancing on Ice.
It said: “I would like to sincerely apologise for any offence I have caused. I am deeply ashamed by the lyrics and very much regret my behaviour.
“The videos were made over a year ago when I was experimenting with music and I've not done anything like it since and nor will I.”
A spokeswoman for Coronation Street said: “ITV find both the language used and the views expressed in this video totally unacceptable.
”Chris Fountain has been suspended pending further inquiries into this matter.“
Priti Patel, the Conservative MP for Witham in Essex, told The Sun: ”This is an appalling revelation that shows a lack of respect, regard and understanding of the crime of rape. This guy is trying to trivialise it. He should know much better.“
And Fay Maxted, the chief executive from the Survivors Trust, an umbrella agency of organisations supporting victims of rape and sexual violence, said: ”This is absolutely shocking. He is a high-profile character. It shows a complete lack of any kind of respect for women at all.
“He is a role model for young people. It almost seems like he's making a joke of something that really isn't funny.”