Journalist Peter Wildeblood steels himself to go into a gay pub. It’s the early 1950s and gay men were routinely denounced as “evil” and “perverted”. Homosexuality was illegal, men were jailed and so-called aversion therapy was brutal, inhumane and humiliating.
Wildeblood (Danny Mays, who is so heartbreakingly good as a man who refuses to feel ashamed) announces to a friendly fellow drinker, “I am a homosexual.” The other man laughs, “I thought that was just something doctors call us.”
Brian Fillis’s thoughtful film, interspersed with testimony from elderly gay men who lived through the years of repression and fear, accompanies Wildeblood (who later wrote the book Against the Law, on which the film is based) as he’s arrested for “gross indecency”, among other charges. Watch out for our guest editor Mark Gatiss as a weary prison doctor.
Wildeblood is imprisoned but the trial and its aftermath proved a landmark and a turning point – change was coming, in the form of Wolfenden Committee.
Who’s in the cast?
A mix of up-and-coming actors and experienced pros including Daniel Mays and Richard Gadd fill the line-up for BBC2’s new Gay Britannia drama. You can meet the cast of the show here.