Who played Colin Russell in EastEnders and where is Michael Cashman now?

6 April 2022, 08:43 | Updated: 6 April 2022, 11:49

Michael Cashman starred in EastEnders
Michael Cashman starred in EastEnders. Picture: Alamy/Getty Images

What happened to Colin Russell in EastEnders and why did he leave the soap?

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EastEnders fans might remember Colin Russell who starred in the soap from 1986 to 1989.

He was part of some huge storylines, including becoming the first gay character in the soap.

But who played Colin Russell and where is he now? Here’s what we know…

Who played Colin Russell in EastEnders?

Lord Michael Cashman played EastEnders’ first gay character Colin Russell for three years in the 80s.

Michael Cashman played Colin Russell in EastEnders
Michael Cashman played Colin Russell in EastEnders. Picture: Alamy

After making his debut, Colin started a relationship with Barry Clark (Gary Hailes), which saw them have the first gay kiss in a British soap opera on primetime television.

It was watched by an estimated 17 million people at the time.

The pair then move in together, but this causes problems when Dot Cotton (June Brown) discovers they are sharing a bed and spreads viscous rumours about the couple.

Despite this, Colin and Dot later forge a close friendship when Colin supports Dot following her husband Charlie Cotton's (Christopher Hancock) dishonesty.

Colin splits with Barry and later goes on to date Guido Smith (Nicholas Donovan).

Michael Cashman is now part of the Labour party
Michael Cashman is now part of the Labour party. Picture: Alamy

In 1989, Colin was diagnosed with MS and decides to move to his brother's house in Bristol.

More than 27 years later, Colin returns to Walford in September 2016 when Dot is invited to his wedding to a man calle Eddie Tsang (Kevin Shen).

Where is Michael Cashman now?

Michael has appeared in other television shows over his career, including Gideon's Way and Doctor Who.

The actor then moved to politics when he became a Labour spokesman on human rights.

He also founded Stonewall, which is a London-based LGBT rights charity.

In June 2015, Michael announced his involvement and investment in SuitLink Ltd., which is a global LGBT and ally professional social network, and he supported Sadiq Khan in his bid for Mayor of London.

After resigning from the Labour Party on 22 May 2019 in opposition to Brexit, he returned in January 2022.

Michael also released a memoir called One of Them: From Albert Square to Parliament Square in February 2020 which was shortlisted for the 2021 RSL Christopher Bland Prize.