Liam BairstowLong-running soap opera Coronation Street is to have its first character with Down’s syndrome, ITV has announced.

Liam Bairstow, 26, will be seen on screen later this year when he will play the role of Alex, the nephew of Roy Cropper's latest love interest, Cathy Matthews.

Bairstow was recruited following ITV's Breaking Through Talent disability workshop, which aimed to recognise that actors with disabilities get few audition opportunities.

“He's going to be coming in as Cathy's nephew,” said Stuart Blackburn, a producer of the show. “It's not some politically correct thing. We actually found there a really great actor with a wonderful sense of timing. The cast have been really enjoying working with him.”

Bairstow’s previous acting experience came with disability theatre company Mind the Gap, which he joined in 2009. There, he juggled his stage work with his job collecting glasses in his uncle's pub.

Coronation Street is not the first soap to feature a character with Down’s syndrome. For example, Eastenders has had Janet Mitchell, daughter of Billy, for some years.