Brookside's Claire Sweeney admits she became a lesbian to save the show as former stars reveal hopes soap will return with fresh new cast

The TV presenter, 47, reunited with some of her former cast mates as part of Loose Women's soap special today and dished the dirt on why her alter-ego Lindsey Corkhill became a "gun-toting, drug-dealing lesbian".

She joked: "Phil Redmond was so pioneering with the storylines – the first lesbian kiss, the first incest story.

"I was a gun-toting, drug-dealing lesbian and agoraphobic for a day. It was marvellous!

"The ratings were starting to slip a bit and I remember Phil Redmond saying to me, 'How do you fancy becoming a lesbian? Ratings are dropping.'

"So I did the second lesbian kiss."

Brookside was known for breaking barriers in Soapland, none more so than in 1994 when Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) and Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson) shared a smooch in what was the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss on British TV.

Lindsey went on to smooch Shelley Bower (Alexandra Wescourt), but Claire's on-screen mum Sue Jenkins has revealed she talked producers out of an idea to turn her character Jackie Corkhill gay, because she didn't think the plot would be right for the character.

She said: "I heard through the grapevine that they were turning Jackie Corkhill gay as well.

"I would play gay for the rest of my life, but I'd invested a lot of years in Jackie, so I said, 'If she was gay, I would know about it.'

"So that caused a little bit of a … we had a kind of an ambiguous storyline then, a was she/ wasn't she, which might have more exciting, I don't know?

"It was the only time I went up to the office."

Claire and Sue were also joined on the show by former co-stars Louis Emerick and Michael Stark, who both revealed hopes the soap would return with a fresh new cast.

Louis said: "The city has changed so much in 15 years, there's so many new stories to tell, I think it would be brilliant if they brought it back and got some fresh blood in."

But Claire insisted the soap wouldn't have the same shock factor it once thrived on, adding: "It was so innovative and ahead of it's time.

"But I think a lot of soaps are doing what we did back then, so it wouldn't be as shocking or popular if they brought it back."

Brookside came to an end in November 2003 after 21 years on our screens.

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