It was welcome news last October to learn that a fan favourite gay character from The Walking Dead comic series was set to make his debut on the ABC TV adaptation, and the waiting game is now after British actor Tom Payne made his very rugged debut on the hit zombie drama this week.

Cast as Paul ‘Jesus’ Monroe, Payne is to feature across the latest series despite the anti-gay  backlash from some quarters that surrounded the Ross Marquand’s character Aaron in season 5.

Payne told EW that the audition process for landing the coveted role was “expectantly quick”.

“I had an audition notice from my agent telling me the fake name of the part with a short description,” he said.

“I knew it was for The Walking Dead but had no idea of what the part would end up being. I submitted the tape on a Wednesday and got the part on Friday.

“I was in London and they wanted me to come ASAP. So after a very short trip to Sweden to see my girlfriend I then ended up in Atlanta on Monday! A total whirlwind.”

While Payne’s debut did not address his character’s sexuality, series creator Robert Kirkman told a Reddit Q&A this would be explored across the second half of the new season, adding that it was important to embrace diversity in television programming.

“In my opinion there should be more awesome gay people in fiction because there are plenty of awesome gay people in real life,” he said.

“I want Jesus to be a character where his sexuality is as unimportant as Rick or other heterosexual characters.

“So we won’t focus on it constantly, and it won’t be the focus of any big storylines for him… but he’ll make it with a dude every now and then… before going out and drop kicking zombies. He’s one of my current favourite characters.”

While we eagerly wait for some more screen time from Payne, we reckon he also scrubs up pretty well across Instagram…

Back up. Now!

A photo posted by Tom Payne (@thetpayne) on

Thanks to @bollare and @baxterofca for my cute beard comb! It’s getting a lot of use

A photo posted by Tom Payne (@thetpayne) on

Trains

A photo posted by Tom Payne (@thetpayne) on

Shot from earlier this year by @aurelienlevitan #DAMAGEDMAGAZINE #GnR

A photo posted by Tom Payne (@thetpayne) on

Falsterbo beach days. Captured by the beautiful @jjakerman Thankyou for bringing me here ❤️

A photo posted by Tom Payne (@thetpayne) on

#SelfTapeOnATuesday

A photo posted by Tom Payne (@thetpayne) on