'Home and Away' series producer Cameron Welsh has spoken out in defence of the soap's current lesbian plot.

The romance between Charlie Buckton (Esther Anderson) and Joey Collins (Kate Bell) has sparked furious debate in Australia with conservative and family groups clashing with gay rights activists.

Speaking to TV Soap magazine, 'Home and Away's Welsh said: "The idea of this show has always been that we hold a mirror to society - and when society changes, we change with it.

"What's ahead in Home and Away is right not only for the series, but also for the times we are living in."

Actress Anderson also defended the controversial plot, saying: "I feel it's time for us to be telling this story. It's really important for us to reflect society, and this storyline is what is going on for many people in real life.

"I didn't think it would be so shocking, but I'm glad we are now exploring what a gay relationship is. I look forward to the time when they (Charlie and Joey) become just another couple in the town's population."