Doctor Who and Sherlock stalwart Mark Gatiss is overseeing a series of specially commissioned monologues from various writers charting a century of the UK gay experience.
The short dramas, under the umbrella title Queers, have been commissioned to mark 50 years since laws were passed exempting gay men from prosecution, and will air on BBC4 around the anniversary of the law which was passed in the House of Commons on 27 July 1967.
For five of the writers – Keith Jarrett, Jon Bradfield, former Radio Times staff writer Gareth McLean, Matthew Baldwin and Michael Dennis – this will be the first time they will have written for television. The other writers are Jackie Clune and Brian Fillis, with Gatiss writing one of the eight films.
The monologues begin in 1917 with The Man on the Platform – Gatiss’ story of a young man returning from the trenches of the First World War and reflecting on both his attraction to another man and a very particular childhood memory.
Other stories include Jackie Clune’s The Perfect Gentlemen, about Bobby, a man with a very unexpected secret, and Brian Fillis’ More Anger, which examines the journey of a young gay actor in the 1980s.
“Taking in 1957’s Wolfenden Report, the HIV crisis and the 1967 Act itself, these 15 minute monologues will mark and celebrate some of the most poignant, funny, entertaining, tragic and riotous moments of British gay history and the very personal rites-of-passage of gay Britons through the last 100 years,” the BBC said in a statement.
Queers is being produced in partnership with The Old Vic who will stage all eight of the monologues in July, just before the television transmission.
Gatiss said, “I’m thrilled and delighted to have been asked to curate this exciting series from both established LGBT writers and a whole host of new talent fresh to the screen. It’s a privilege to be working with such brilliant writers and actors. At this challenging and fluid time, it’s a marvellous opportunity to celebrate LGBT life and culture, to see how far we have come and how far we still have to go”.
Gatiss will also star alongside Line of Duty actor Daniel Mays in Against the Law, a new BBC2 factual drama about the real-life story of the explosive Montagu case and the trial of four young men who were jailed for “homosexual offences” in the 1950s.
The actor and writer will also be on hand to talk more about these projects (and so much else) at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival at London’s BFI Southbank, where he will be in conversation with Radio Times TV editor Alison Graham on Sunday 9 April.
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years writing for Stage newspaper, Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.