Corrie star Channique Sterling-Brown discusses ‘bizarre’ backlash to character’s interracial relationship

Sterling-Brown has won awards for her portrayal of solicitor Dee-Dee Bailey on ITV soap

Isobel Lewis
Wednesday 04 October 2023 10:55 BST
Coronation Street character is scarred in acid attack

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Louise Thomas

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Coronation Street star Channique Sterling-Brown has opened up about the “bizarre” backlash to her character having an interracial relationship.

The actor plays solicitor Dee-Dee Bailey in the long-running ITV soap, having joined the cobbles last year.

Dee-Dee’s recent storyline has involved a relationship with new character Joel, who is played by former Hollyoaks actor Calum Lill.

But while praising Lill in a new interview, Sterling-Brown shared that some viewers had taken issue with Coronation Street showing a Black woman and white man in a relationship.

“I saw some comments about us being an interracial couple. Almost like, ‘An interracial couple on the Street – God forbid,’” Sterling-Brown told Digital Spy.

“I just thought it’s so bizarre, because the relationship had nothing to do with race. It really is just about two people who have found each other, and are really in that loved-up, gross honeymoon phase.”

The actor said that “as a Black woman in the industry, I think we do put constraints on ourselves on how we’re going to be presented, especially romantically”.

Dee-Dee and Joel on a date in ‘Corrie'
Dee-Dee and Joel on a date in ‘Corrie' (ITV)

“So whether we are the sexual interest or just the friend-zoned woman or whatever, I feel like we’re often hypersexualised or under-sexualised as Black female characters,” she said, praising the “authentic relationship” between Dee-Dee and Joel.

“I hate when people are like, ‘You’re playing the race card.’ No one’s making it about race. People just see ‘other’ and they assume that’s what it is. But it’s literally not about that at all.”

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As with other soaps such as EastEnders and Emmerdale, Corrie has long been praised for portraying modern relationships, contemporary issues and the challenges faced in Britain today.

In March, the ITV show – which began in 1960 – was widely praised for featuring a storyline about acid attacks. Ryan (Ben Thompson) was left permanently scarred by corrosive liquid after getting in the way of Daisy (Charlotte Midgeley) as she was attacked by her ex on her wedding day.

Producer Iain MacLeod said that the team had approached the subject with “utmost seriousness”, telling The Independent:  “You want to portray the reality of it, but not to the extent that it becomes voyeuristic or gratuitous.

“We used obscured shots so that you could see the redness and the burn, but it was not overly shocking or too gory for a pre-watershed audience.”

Coronation Street airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm on ITV.

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