Coronation Street veteran Jack Duckworth will leave the show in a controversial assisted suicide plotline, it has been revealed.
The storyline is likely to fuel fresh debates over the issue of assisted suicide, and critics are concerned that mainstream soaps are being actively lobbied to push a liberal agenda.
Popular TV programmes like Coronation Street and EastEnders are actively lobbied to push campaigning storylines.
Alison Sinclair, publicity manager for Coronation Street admitted: “We are often approached by charities or organisations with requests to incorporate their campaigns or issues into the show”.
According to a Sunday newspaper Jack, played by Bill Tarmey, will ask his girlfriend Connie Rathbone to help him commit suicide after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
But Connie is said to refuse because of concerns she might face time in jail.
The storyline mimics the campaign of assisted suicide activist Debbie Purdy.
She wanted her husband to be able to help her commit suicide with immunity from criminal prosecution.
She won a court case forcing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to issue prosecution guidance on the matter.
Earlier this year the BBC came under fire from MPs after airing two programmes heavily supporting assisted suicide ahead of the publication of assisted suicide guidelines from the DPP.
And Lord Carlile of the Care Not Killing alliance said the BBC was waging an “incredibly zealous” campaign for assisted suicide.
But the BBC claimed the airing of two assisted suicide programmes on the same night was “pure coincidence”.
Coronation Street has come under fire recently for controversial storylines involving Christian characters.
In March a 16-year-old character known as Sophie Webster was set to have an on-screen lesbian kiss with a friend from her Bible study group.
And last April dozens of outraged viewers complained to the television regulator, Ofcom, after an Easter Sunday episode featured a string of outbursts against Christianity by veteran character Ken Barlow.
Barlow, played by actor Bill Roach, accused Christian believers of targeting “vulnerable people”, and claimed his grandson Simon was being “indoctrinated” by Christianity at church and at his primary school.
“I went to his assembly at school last week,” he said, “and they had artwork on the wall depicting ‘the Creation’. He is being taught creationism.”
Barlow later told Simon that “Scientists, for instance, think that the universe began after a big explosion and that we don’t need religions and superstitions in our lives and that we don’t need God and heaven and hell”.
ITV commented through a spokesperson who said: “Coronation Street is a soap opera set in modern society and therefore represents views from all sides of the religious spectrum.”
But the Daily Telegraph’s religion correspondent, Jonathan Wynne-Jones, said storylines in a number of soaps have sent the clear message that “Christians are nutters”.
He continued, Christians should expect robust criticism but as faith is made to look more ridiculous “the line between ridicule and persecution becomes even thinner”.
Mr Wynne-Jones wrote on his blog: “Some would argue that Christianity has been undermined for some time on television.”
He added: “Even some of the BBC’s religious documentaries have tended to challenge traditional beliefs, from claiming Mary was raped by a Roman soldier to arguing that Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus was caused by an epileptic fit.”