"Coronation Street" have cast a new LGBTQ+ character following the shock death of Rana Habeeb.
The ITV soap has faced a backlash from the LGBTQ+ community after the loveable cobbles resident - played by Bhavna Limbachia - was bumped off on her wedding day to fellow bride Kate Connor (Faye Brookes) last week, but a new character, gay footballer Kai, is set to be introduced following auditions last week.
A source told The Sun newspaper: ""Corrie" has had strong LGBT characters for a long time but viewers were left devastated when they killed off Rana just before she tied the knot.
"They're now hunting for a new gay character called Kai, and held auditions last week.
"Kai will be a rising football star, who is also black, and he's worried that being out will cause him issues."
Rana perished last Wednesday (20.03.19) after the Underworld factory collapsed on top of her - and her death led to criticism from some viewers, who compared her passing to an online theory that LGBTQ+ couples aren't allowed to last long term in fictional shows and films.
However, Bhavna insisted it was her decision to be killed off after she decided to quit the soap, and said she didn't want to "offend" the community.
She explained: "My decision to leave and be killed off was never meant to offend the LGBTQ+ community.
"It was made with the same way I've tried to portray the character throughout the years - and that's with truth and integrity."
What's more, Faye recently insisted to fans of the fictional couple - dubbed Kana - that the actresses are "just as sad" as the viewers about Rana's demise.
She said: "I am so worried for the Kana fans because I love them. I need them to know that we are just as sad as them to say goodbye to that couple.
"It felt like Bhavna was actually breaking up with me."