Coronation Street's iconic gay character Todd Grimshaw returns this week, but played by new actor Gareth Pierce - whose on-set family pics have replaced those of predecessor Bruno Langley.
Langley, who played Grimshaw on and off from 2000-17, was fired three years ago following an allegation of sexual assault. The actor later pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and was sentenced to a twelve-month community order, forty days of rehabilitation activity, and made to sign the sex offenders register for five years.
Pierce appears in the role of Todd from Friday's episode (9 October 2020), three years after the character disappeared from the cobbles after assaulting a police officer.
But eagle-eyed viewers might have already spotted Pierce in the Grimshaws' front room.
Speaking to The Sun Online, he said: "The on-set family photos in the Grimshaws – all the Todd ones are from my childhood but mixed in with Ryan [Thomas]’s as Jason."
The star added: "So it oddly feels there’s brotherly connection even though we haven’t met."
Speaking to The Mirror about not copying Langley's performance, Pierce said: "Some of the qualities, some of the instincts that make me unique as an actor, that's what I've been employed to bring to the character now and so I don't want to get drawn into impersonation."
Langley was dropped from the show in 2017 after being convicted of sexual assault.
In 2003, he and fellow actor Adam Rickett (as Nick Tilsey) filmed the soap's first-ever gay kiss. It received 21 complaints to the Independent Television Commission.
“I’m thrilled to be joining such an iconic show"
Pierce is known for roles such as Lenny Mack in Sky 1's Stella and Gavin Moss in The Archers.
When his casting was announced, he said in a statement: “I’m thrilled to be joining such an iconic show, and to have been entrusted with taking Todd forward into some really exciting storylines. It’s an honour to be part of the dedicated Coronation Street team in such unprecedented times.”