Coronation Street star who was part of UK TV’s first gay kiss dies aged 84

Coronation Street star James Laurenson, who made history alongside Sir Ian McKellen as UK TV’s first gay kiss, has died at the age of 84. 

The actor, who was born in New Zealand, appeared alongside McKellen in Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II at London’s Piccadilly Theatre in 1970, which was broadcast on the BBC.

A kiss featured in the play between Laurenson’s character, Piers Gaveston, and McKellen’s lead character became the UK’s first ever gay kiss featured on TV, only three years after homosexuality was decriminalised.

In a career spanning five decades, Laurenson also appeared in Coronation Street in 1968 as Reverend Peter Hope, American soap opera Days Of Our Lives, and the hit 2011 movie One Day.

More recently, he starred in the Netflix show The Crown as doctor John Weir in the show’s second series. 

A cause of death has not yet been announced.

Ian McKellen and James Laurenson playing a love scene between Edward II and Gaveston during Marlowe’s ‘Edward II’ at London’s Piccadilly Theatre (Central Press/Getty Images)

Speaking about the pair’s groundbreaking kiss in Edward II, McKellen claimed fans have expressed their gratitude towards him for providing vital gay representation on TV in the 1970s.

“We had a passionate kiss, James Laurenson and I, for which I’m always grateful, and it was broadcast by the BBC,” the actor said in an interview.

“And of course, since, I’ve heard from people I shall never meet saying ‘I’m so grateful to you for that kiss which I was watching in Indiana with my parents and we had a good conversation about it afterwards and I’m now a happily married gay man’… So it was wonderful.”

James Laurenson is reportedly survived by his second wife, Cari Haysom. He shares a son, Jamie, from his first marriage to actress Carol Macready, who he divorced in 1997.

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