Scandal, confrontation, intrigue. Sometimes the latest news from Westminster is even more interesting than what’s going on in Weatherfield or Walford. With that in mind, let’s have a look at these soap stars who’ve expressed an interest in politics.
Heart-throb Adam Rickitt, who took over the role of Nick Tilsley in Coronation Street in 1997, sent teenage girls’ temperatures soaring in 1999 when he launched a pop career and bared his six-pack in the music video for his first single, I Breathe Again. He also caused ripples in the world of UK politics in 2005 when he revealed he was on the Conservative Party’s “A-list” of 100 would be MPs to contest winnable seats in the 2010 general election.
Corrie favourite Liz Dawn, who played Vera Duckworth in the soap for 34 years, is a big Labour Party supporter. She’s passionate about fighting for the future of the NHS and has described Prime Minister David Cameron as “a waste of space”.
Ex-EastEnders actor, Ross Kemp, who played hard man Grant Mitchell in the soap, is a vocal supporter of the Labour Party. He has campaigned on behalf of the leader of the Labour-run council in the London borough of Merton and also supports Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh.
Best known for her role as Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, Julie Hesmondhalgh is a passionate socialist. She spoke at a rally against the Government’s ‘bedroom tax’ in 2013 saying: “I am absolutely fed up of a government that makes us constantly look at the people in society at the absolute bottom rung and blame everything on them.”
Ironically, Coronation Street veteran Bill Roache is a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party, despite the character he’s played in the soap for more than half a century, Ken Barlow, being known for his left wing views. In a storyline from 1987 Ken even stood as a candidate for the Labour Party when local elections took place in Weatherfield.
John Middleton, who plays Emmerdale’s mild-mannered vicar Ashley Thomas, has said he wouldn’t rule out standing as an MP in the future if his contract on the ITV1 soap wasn’t renewed. The actor has been a member of the Labour Party since 1982 and has been spotted campaigning on behalf of the party in by-elections.
Coronation Street actress Kate Connerty, who plays conniving Tracy Barlow on the Manchester-based soap, is an active campaigner against the international fur trade and supports the animal protection group Peta. She’s also a supporter of the Green Party.
87-year-old June Brown has been playing Dot Cotton in EastEnders since 1985. She says she has “always voted Conservative” and once told a Guardian journalist: “I wouldn’t vote Labour, dear, if you paid me.”
Coronation Street’s David Neilson campaigned for the Labour Party candidate in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election in 2011. The actor, who plays Roy Cropper, told the Mirror: “I’m angry because the people who can least afford it are being forced to suffer. They are going to suffer from the cuts and from the loss of public sector jobs. It’s purely a moral choice. What the Lib Dems and Conservatives are doing is unfair.”
Brooke Kinsella, whose 16-year-old half-brother Ben was stabbed to death in 2008, is a passionate anti-knife crime campaigner. She pledged her support to the Conservatives ahead of the 2010 general election saying the party would “make our streets safe again”. The actress played Kelly Taylor in EastEnders from 2001 to 2004.
Before playing couch potato Jim in The Royle Family, Ricky Tomlinson starred as Bobby Grant in the now defunct Channel 4 soap Brookside. Prior to his acting career he was a plasterer and was jailed for two years in 1973 for his part in a strike. He maintains his innocence and is still fighting to clear his name. He is a socialist firebrand and is fiercely left wing.
Sue Johnston played Sheila Grant in Brookside and more recently popped up in Coronation Street. She’s campaigned for the Labour Party, is a socialist and has been a trade unionist all her life. “When I was growing up my parents taught me the importance of working class representation and those who fought for the vote and that has never left me,” she says.
Former EastEnders star Billy Murray, who starred as gangster Johnny Allen in the BBC soap, pledged his support for the Conservative Party ahead of the 2010 general election. He said: “A hung Parliament is not what we want because the Tories can and will make a difference.”