Former actor Michael Cashman swapped EastEnders for treading the boards in South Tyneside.
Now Lord Cashman, and Labour’s special envoy on LGBT issues, he spoke at a Labour Party fundraising event on Thursday evening before taking a tour of the Customs House, South Shields.
His speech was heard by around 90 party members at Colman’s fish and chips restaurant in Ocean Road.
Lord Cashman, who played the BBC1 drama’s first gay character, viewed an exhibition of work at the theatre from a recent festival and discussed young people’s art programmes.
He also spoke to actors rehearsing for a new production, posing for photographs on the stage.
Lord Cashman, 67, also agreed to support The Customs House in its development of a specific offer around LGBT, which it is hoping to set up.
Customs House executive director Ray Spencer MBE said: “It was great to have him join us for a tour of the venue.
“He met and spoke to the cast of a production in rehearsal which he enjoyed, being an actor himself.
“He also looked at an exhibition of work from a festival which saw young people take over the venue for a week of events.
“Lord Cashman also spoke to one of our team who is setting up an LGBT offer, and offered to help us achieve that.”
Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “The South Shields Labour Party was delighted to be able to host his visit.
“He gave a stirring speech and, as a former member of the European Parliament, he expressed his concerns about the way Brexit negotiations are going.
He added: “I know that Michael was delighted with the things that Ray and his team is doing at The Customs House.”