Corrie Michael Le Vells life – gay icon, drug battle and horror trial

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Michael Le Vell's Coronation Street character Kevin Webster is loved-up with Abi Franklin, played by Sally Carman, after their will they-won't they wedding earlier this year.

They're preparing for a tough Christmas, with it being Abi's first festive period since the death of her son Seb, who was played by Harry Visinoni.

But it's far from Kevin's first Christmas on the cobbles, as Michael, 57, has been portraying the character on the ITV soap since 1983.

Now, as Kevin prepares to support Abi through a difficult Christmastime, Daily Star is taking a look inside actor Michael's life away from the screen.

Coronation Street

Three years before he originally played the iconic role of Kevin, Michael guest starred as paperboy Neil Grimshaw on Coronation Street.

His short storyline saw him get into trouble for throwing away newspapers instead of delivering them and he only appeared in two episodes before returning in 1983 as the mechanic Kevin Webster.

Kevin met another Corrie legend Sally Webster when he drove past her whilst she was waiting for a bus.

They married and had two children together but their relationship was turbulent as Kevin had multiple affairs, most notably with Natalie Barnes, played by Loose Women presenter Denise Welch.

He was suspended from the soap in 2013 due to allegations of sexual offences, which he denied and was later found not guilty for, but returned for a short time in 2014, before leaving again to deal with a drug habit he had picked up during the difficulty of the trial.

His current storyline sees his recent return from his honeymoon with new wife Abi Franklin.

Gay fanbase

Le Vell gained a huge gay following when he began playing Kevin in the 80s.

His character sported tight jeans, a large moustache and most notably an earring.

He was the first British actor to wear his left ear pierced during a show which resulted in a huge volume of fan mail – although traditionally the right earlobe suggests someone is part of the LGBT community.

He spoke about his famous moustache last year and the star said he was booked to appear in gay nightclubs up and down the country.

Michael revealed that the absence of his facial hair changed everything: "Everybody loved my moustache! I was booked up doing appearances at gay clubs throughout the country, from Land's End to John O'Groats.

"I could go out six nights a week, having a great time, doing Q&As, signing autographs, having photos taken.

“I used to get loads of fan mail, and underpants sent in the post but then, in the show, Stephanie Barnes shaved off Kevin's ‘tache for a bet. It changed overnight, nobody would book me.”

Trial

In September 2011, Michael was arrested on suspicion of rape.

He denied the claims and the case was dropped in 2012 due to insufficient evidence.

In February 2013, the decision not to prosecute Michael, under his real surname of Turner, was reviewed, and Greater Manchester Police charged him with 19 offences to which Le Vell stated: “I am innocent of these charges and intend to fight them vigorously.”

During this time he was not featured on Coronation Street, but after he was found not guilty on all accounts he returned to the soap in 2014.

Drug problems

After the trial, Michael left Corrie for a three month period to deal with a cocaine addiction he had developed, which he said was an attempt to help him deal with the situation.

The trial cost Michael Le Vell £20,000 in legal fees, which led the actor to declare bankruptcy.

He went on to check into The Priory close to his Manchester home, while Corrie gave him as much time off as he needed.

Michael told the Sunday Mirror in 2014: "I had never felt so low. I knew I was innocent but everything was closing in on me.

“And when someone offered them to me, I just agreed. The first time I ever did cocaine was in the lead up to my trial. There were some bad influences around me and it felt like an escape. Now I’m so ashamed of what I did.”

Love life

Michael married his co-star Janette Beverly, who played minor character Elaine Pollard in Coronation Street, in 1986. They were married for 25 years and divorced in 2011, a decision which was allegedly influenced by his charges.

Michael and Louise Gibbons began dating in 2014 and the pair got engaged in 2017.

A source said at the time: “Michael has been to hell and back and even now feels the effects of the case, but throughout his battle with addiction he’s had Louise by his side.”

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