The BBC have announced that they are to broadcast a season of programming to mark the 50 years since homosexuality was partially decriminalised in the UK.
Led by programming on BBC Two and Four, with other content across BBC radio and online, the Gay Britannia season will feature bold and provocative stories, celebrating the LGBTQ community as well as challenging existing preconceptions and prejudices. The season will also cast a fresh light on the history of gay Britain, as well as highlighting just what it means to be gay in Britain today. Contributors announced today include Andrew Scott, Val McDermid, Olly Alexander, Sandi Toksvig, Susan Calman, Stephen K Amos, and Simon Callow.
On BBC Two, the season ranges from the compelling dramas Against the Law, starring Daniel Mays as journalist Peter Wildeblood who was found guilty of homosexuality in the 1950s in the explosive Montagu Trial and the first screen drama from best-selling British novelist Patrick Gale: Man in an Orange Shirt starring Vanessa Redgrave to important and timely documentaries such as Is It Safe to be Gay in the UK? which uses testimony and found footage to explore the rise of attacks on lesbian, gay and transgender people.
What Gay Did for Art celebrates the contribution lesbian and gay people have made to popular culture, the visual arts, literature, theatre and film on BBC Two whilst Prejudice and Pride: The People’s History of LGBTQ Britain, presented by Susan Calman and Stephen K Amos on BBC Four, reveals the precious mementos and memorabilia that have the changed the lives of LGBTQ people over the last 50 years. Also on BBC Four, Gluck charts the modern British history of female homosexuality and its representation in culture, literature, fashion and art through the untold story of the celebrated artist Gluck who defied the gender and sexuality definitions of her time; and Mark Gatiss offers his and other writers’ responses to the 50th anniversary of The Sexual Offences Act in Queers.
On BBC Three, Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years and Years and a powerful voice on LGBTQ rights, explores why the gay community is more vulnerable to mental health issues, as he opens up about his own long-term battles with depression in Olly Alexander: Growing Up Gay.
Highlights on BBC Radio include Val McDermid presenting Queer Britain on Radio 4, exploring the many ways that the LGBTQ community was accepted, tolerated, despised and ostracised and how this was reflected across culture, society and politics. On Radio 2, a two-part series will celebrate out and proud LGBTQ performers who utilised their sexuality to push boundaries, defining the sound of their generation. On Radio 3, the drama Victim will trace the bravery behind the 1961 film of the same name that was the first English language film to use the word ‘homosexual’.
Patrick Holland, BBC Two Channel Controller, says
“This is a rich and compelling set of programmes that challenge us all. From the heart-breaking testimony of the men who lived through the years before partial decriminalisation in Against the Law and Patrick Gale’s intensely personal Man in an Orange Shirt to a documentary revealing the experience of people facing discrimination in the UK today, this season is a powerful examination of how far we have come whilst also exploring how much further we have to travel.”