Is homophobia still on television?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has been involved in a same-sex romance with host Steve Brookstein

Rumours are flying about what, if anything, will happen after the last episode of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

It’s been a couple of weeks since the ITV show’s presenter Stephen Mulhern told the presenters that Stephen Mulhern – one of the contestants in the last final – had been “in an on-screen sex act with a girl”.

The show’s fans and contestants alike have been inundated with memes and tweets about the drama surrounding Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly.

Whether the messy dramas lead to any wider effect or not, it’s the perception of sexuality that could be the real price.

Stephen Mulhern is not outed on air

There’s no documentary series like Coming Out on the BBC about openly gay celebrities, so getting people’s heads around if a star is gay or not is not something that can be addressed by a TV panel show.

“We don’t think about sexuality at all,” says Lorraine Charles, Channel 4’s Good Morning Britain presenter.

But she does feel it’s something that could be changed in the future.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Noel Edmonds’ show Deal Or No Deal still believes in certain social conventions – the presenter wasn’t outed by the show until he left in 2015

“I’m sure we’ll be in a world where gay people are not seen as being a threat. It’s a bit more upper-class now.”

As for presenting reality TV shows, or old-school quizzes such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, it’s always been assumed that they’re not gay-friendly because of the affect that television can have on young minds.

“I am heterosexual,” writes Robert Hall, who presented the long-running quiz series, on dating website Grindr, when he announced his status.

Image copyright BBC Image caption Jezza misses out on a kiss on MasterChef

But there are still a number of reality shows where viewers are surprised to discover a celeb might be in a same-sex relationship.

You’d imagine that a dating show like MasterChef would be looked at with caution when it comes to any element of sexuality, but this isn’t the case.

Series 18 contestant Andrew Smith and contestants Donna Fleming and Donovan Wood both came out to the judging panel when they left.

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Both Andrew and Donovan were given the opportunity to say something on the show, and Donovan did by telling Gregg Wallace that he’d been “seeing someone”.

Despite the knowledge, both Gregg and John Torode said they would still have given a kiss to Donovan, though I think that if either of them was gay it would have come out to them anyway – they saw Andrew too.

Image copyright BBC Image caption This was the case for the producers of Age Before Beauty as well as John Humphrys who was brought out by Adam Freeman

It’s the same for the creative crew who produce the show.

Stefanie Rowntree, who works on the show with her partner, says that it’s very different when it comes to a celebrity couple working on the show.

They’ll never comment on the couples, but they’ll sometimes let slip a joke if they’re aware that it’s the couple they’re working with.

Image copyright BBC Image caption Jonathan Ross also came out as gay on This Morning in 1993

Strictly Come Dancing has always had strict rules about revealing identities, although producers will often give hints such as, “You might know them from something they’ve done to the outfit”.

There’s another aspect of their relationship which isn’t so invasive.

“When we’re invited to the judges’ room, I love it because all of them are gay,” says Ayda Field, who is married to Robbie Williams and stars in The Voice UK.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jade Goody was constantly questioned about her sexuality after her Big Brother appearance

Big Brother is another show in which there are nearly always hints about a contestant’s sexuality before they are outed, in a bid to avoid giving away the outcome.

Our favourite part of BB was Jade Goody as a viewer.

Every time her face would flash up it’d be, “Jade is gay”. But before the show even aired she came out as gay on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

“To be honest I didn’t care so much when she came out because it wasn’t the most important thing,” says Ina Priestley, who served on Big Brother as a researcher from 2004-2006.

“People want to hate gay

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