Coronation Street is welcoming the first black family in the soap’s history onto the famous cobbles.
The Baileys – made up of father Edison, mother Aggie and sons Michael and James – are due to move into number three after buying the house from Norris.
The soap is set to explore themes of racism and homophobia in sport with the family, as 19-year-old footballer James is due to come out as gay in an upcoming storyline.
Producer Iain MacLeod said: “The north-west and Great Britain as a whole is a big melting pot of people from different backgrounds and ethnicities and the more representative we can make Corrie of Manchester and Britain the better really.
“It was a no-brainer, but I mean, as with anything on Coronation Street, it was the characters that came first and [the Baileys] were just instantly likeable.”
Although the show has cast individual black characters, the Baileys are the first black family to be brought in all together.
Asked why the show hasn’t done so in its 59-year history, MacLeod said: “Short answer – I don’t really know.
“In the past, new families come in one at a time. I find that a harder way to do it, which is why they all turn up and you get the dynamic.
“Manchester has a large proportion of black residents so it did feel sort of overdue we did this and represented modern Manchester a bit more accurately.”
Builder Edison, played by Trevor Michael Georges (Holby City, Noughts & Crosses), arrives on the street after taking over the builder’s yard from the Grimshaws alongside 27-year-old son Michael, played by CBeebies House presenter Ryan Russell.
The baby of the family James, played by 28-year-old musical theatre star Nathan Graham, will play for Weatherfield County, making him a quick favourite with the street’s residents.
MacLeod said: “We wanted to look at a modern story about a young, gay man. It won’t be your normal coming out story where we see James wrestling with his sexuality.
“We were quite keen that he knows who he is but has some apprehensiveness about telling his parents, has a lot of apprehensiveness about his teammates potentially finding out.
“When we meet the character he’s on the cusp of bigger things football-wise and is also aware that despite the progress we’ve made as a society, homophobia on the terraces is still fairly rampant.”
Lorna Laidlaw, who finished an eight-year stint on Doctors as Mrs Tembe last year, will play pharmacy assistant Aggie, who is set to clash with the family’s next door neighbours – the Barlows.
“They do, in a fairly British, polite way, rub the neighbours up the wrong way a little bit when they arrive and then Aggie takes offence at something one of her neighbours says and it becomes a little bit of a tit for tat war. It’s the residents of number one, ” MacLeod said.
“It becomes a noise war, essentially. At that point of the proceedings, Edison and Ken come back from where they’ve been and open their front doors.
“Both men shut the doors and say – shall we go to the pub and leave them to it?”
Another member of the Bailey family will join the street at a later stage, with daughter Diana yet to be cast by producers.
Although the family have bought the house from long-standing resident Norris, played by Malcolm Hebden, producers have reassured fans of the soap that he will make a return to the cobbles.
The foursome are set to appear on our screens in early June.