50 Shades of Gay

50 Shades of Gay


This month, broadcasters are flying their rainbow flags and rallying their favourite gays in the village to mark 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. (Scotland and Northern Ireland neglected to join the parade until the 1980s.)

Channel 4’s season is branded Fifty Shades of Gay, which is also the title of this doc fronted by that magnificent roué, Rupert Everett. It’s a “personal journey”, a history of changes in gay life since 1967, broad in scope and rambling in execution, but his direct line of questioning and nose for muck are always a tonic.

He has a hilarious trip to a derelict “cottage” (public lav used for assignations) with an ex-cop who used to snoop there; returns to the Coleherne pub in Earl’s Court that he haunted in his prime; meets the stars of Hollyoaks’ “no-holds-barred” gay storylines; and chats to some of Hebden Bridge’s vast lesbian community.

He crashes Paul Burrell’s wedding to a man. “You’re very butch, I understand,” teases Everett. “I thought you were married [to a woman] but gay-ish.” Diana’s former butler takes this in good stead.


Rupert Everett explores the changes in gay life in the 50 years since the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967. He meets LGBT people from all walks of life, including former royal butler Paul Burrell, rapper Jai'Rouge, actors from Hollyoaks, and Essex carpenter Steve, and visits Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, known as the lesbian capital of Britain.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Rupert Everett
Director Michael Waldman
Executive Producer Neil Crombie
Executive Producer Joe Evans
Producer Michael Waldman