After a meeting with ITV chiefs at which he was warned to take care in his future conduct, new Coronation Street star Ryan Russell is to be allowed to keep his job despite a history of homophobic and sexist tweets.
The actor is set to make his debut in June as new character Michael Bailey, who will first appear in a scene in which he reacts to the news that his brother is gay.
He ran into trouble with ITV staff when a number of comments made on Twitter between 2011 and 2013, during his student years, were unearthed. The offensive tweets included one post in which he said that many women are “f***ing stupid,” and one in which he called a friend a “big gay” for getting a pet hamster.
In a statement issued to Digital Spy, a spokesperson for Coronation Street has said that, following a meeting in which Ryan apologised for the tweets, the soap’s showrunners have decided to accept his apology.
The statement reads “Ryan Russell has apologised for the social media posts recently brought to ITV’s attention which he admits he posted between 2011 and 2013 when at university.
“The tweets in question are no longer in the public domain and were deleted by Ryan in 2013 shortly after they had been published because he realised they were offensive and regretted that he had posted in this way.
“He has spoken with producers today and given them assurances about his conduct, values and behaviour going forward.”
Ryan Russell has also issued a public apology for his conduct, saying “First and foremost, I want to take ownership for my behaviour and apologise for some of the languages that I’ve previously used on social media.
“I knew some of the words I’d used as a younger man hadn’t been appropriate, therefore some time ago I took action and deleted any tweets that I felt used language that didn’t reflect my values, outlook or principles. Unfortunately, these historical tweets have resurfaced.”
He added “I pride myself on being a respectful person who believes in equal rights for all, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion, class and sexuality.
“I’m embarrassed by some of my previous social media posts but hope to be able to use my platform to educate, inspire and engage others. As with anything in life, I believe that it’s about self-reflection, education and growth.”
Some have seen the decision to allow Russell to continue in his role as a mark of hypocrisy on the part of ITV. Actress Shila Iqbal was recently fired from her role as Aiesha Richards on Emmerdale – another ITV soap – when historic offensive tweets were discovered on her account. Like Russell, Iqbal was young when she posted the tweets back in 2013, and like Russell, she apologised for her actions.
The Irish Sun quotes one unnamed TV source as saying “It’s a bit baffling why only one of them was given a second chance. Both made comments in historic tweets that they both regretted as they got older but only Ryan has been given a chance. It stinks of rank hypocrisy.”
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