TV favourite Amanda Barrie has told how she was terrified to reveal her sexuality during 20 years on Coronation Street.
The 82-year-old actress, once happily married to husband Robin, wed her long-term partner, journalist Hilary Bonner, 68, three years ago.
But it wasn’t until Amanda left the Corrie cobbles, where she played Alma Halliwell, that she really felt able to come out as bisexual.
She said: “I was in Coronation Street, when you could not mention the word gay, and I would have been in dire trouble if it had come out.
“Not because they would have sacked me but there were people in the show who were so homophobic that they wouldn’t have worked with you.
“They were floating about, just there. It was an attitude.”
Amanda, who was memorably at the centre of a Corrie tug-of-love between Mike Baldwin and Ken Barlow, says revealing her sexuality has not caused her any problems.
And she notes the irony of Corrie’s growing number of gay characters – men and women – since her days on the set of the ITV soap.
The former Carry On star laughed as she said: “When you look now, the whole street’s running amok. It’s the gayest street in the world. I think, well, not another one, for God’s sake, pull yourself together, kids, you can’t all live on Canal Street,” referring to Manchester’s gay village.”
Amanda is quick to have a laugh at her own expense – particularly about her age.
She admits she is “a terrible anxiety fiend” and has been thinking about death since she was five or six.
Then she jokes about her veteran status: “They’re all younger than me now, any older and they’re dead.
“I often visit the British Museum because it’s the only place I can find anybody older than me.
“Hilary was very relieved to see me alive after Celebrity Big Brother because I said to the producers I would have been the first ever exit in a coffin.”
The actress admits struggling to catch all the announcements that were made in the BB house and says she recently started wearing hearing aids after discovering she had a high-frequency impairment.
She adds: “The main thing is being able to enjoy life and join in the conversation.
“I don’t want to miss a thing, particularly if anybody’s saying anything behind my back.”
- World Hearing Day is on March 3 and Amanda is supporting the Specsavers Audiologists Listen Up! campaign to encourage regular hearing checks. For more information or to book a free test visit specsavers.co.uk/hearing.