British soap Coronation Street has been labelled "the Sodom of the North" by a British writer who laments the expanding number of gay characters and its "sexual propaganda".
Brian Sewell, a writer for the Daily Mail, says the soap has morphed from its "gritty, working-class" Lancashire roots to "shoddy, tinsel-edged glamour" where the characters are "showered, prinked and perfumed - particularly the men".
His comments have been slammed by commentators in Britain - and even posters to the Mail's often partisan website.
In the article, headlined "Wall-to-wall gays, transsexuals, transvestites and teenage lesbians", Sewell argues that the soap has departed from reality.
"Is it true that the lives of heterosexual Mancunians are haplessly intertwined with transvestites, transsexuals, teenage lesbians and a horde of homosexuals? Is Manchester now the Sodom of the North?"
Sewell, who has alluded to his own sexuality in the Channel 4 documentary How Gay Sex Changed the World, cites characters such as lesbian teenagers Sophie Webster and her girlfriend Sian Powers, homosexual Sean Tully and boyfriend Marcus Dent, middle-aged cross-dresser Marc Selby and Hayley Cropper, who became the first transsexual in a British soap when she arrived on screens in 1998.
"When confronted with this, the sane man may feel his nose is being rubbed in it," he says.
"There's too much, not only of gay men - who are estimated to make up just 6 per cent of the population, but who dominate the storylines in the soap - but also of lesbians, bisexuals, the transgender community, cross-dressers and everyone else with some sexual quirk or fetish."
He claims that it is a result of a society "that surrenders to the will of minorities that shout. We see it among ethnic minorities and sexual minorities, in the disabled lobby ..."
Sewell argues that the logical conclusion is widening the sexual mores of the characters even further.
"Why not bring in ... those who subscribe to leather fetishism, bondage and flagellation? They exist."
He suggests such characters and their storylines should not be broadcast before the watershed of 9pm, when children are watching.
The comments have caused outrage among readers and other British commentators.
Paul Flynn, a homosexual from Manchester writing in the Guardian, said the show did reflect modern Lancashire, and it was not the "first time tacit homophobia has been flung towards the expert team that put together Coronation Street".
Under Sewell's column, Robin, of Sunderland, wrote: "This article is disgusting. For someone as 'distinguished' as Brian Sewell thinks he is, he has little concept of modern life.
"People are gay, it's a fact, it doesn't matter whether you like it or not, it's happening."
And one former resident of Manchester said: "Clearly, Sewell has not been to Manchester recently. Yes, there are gay people there. It is a thriving, ebullient city which accommodates and celebrates all shades of human sexuality.
"Manchester has moved with the times - grown up even - and Coronation Street with it. Perhaps Sewell should catch up."