Against the Law

Against the Law


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.


Fact-based drama based on the 1954 Montagu Trial, in which gay journalist Peter Wildeblood and his friends Lord Montagu and Michael Pitt-Rivers were tried for homosexual offences. The ensuing scandal and public outcry over the fairness of the case forced a reluctant government to set up a committee to investigate whether homosexuality should be legalised. Starring Daniel Mays and Mark Gatiss and featuring testimony from gay men who lived through those days, a retired police officer and a former psychiatric nurse.

Cast & Crew

Peter Wildeblood Daniel Mays
Eddie McNally Richard Gadd
Fanny Paul Keating
Edward Montagu Mark Edel-Hunt
Dr Landers Mark Gatiss
Prosecutor Roberts Richard Dillane
Supt Jones Charlie Creed-Miles
Lord Wolfenden David Robb
Michael Pitt-Rivers Josh Collins
Defence Rawlinson Daniel Betts
Clerk of assize Timothy Watson
Dan Starling Barney White
Governor Cockayne James Gaddas
Iris Claire Bond
John Reynolds Matthew Canny
Tony Mark Holgate
Radio announcer David Watson
Director Fergus O'Brien
Executive Producer Aysha Rafaele
Producer Scott James Bassett
Writer Brian Fillis
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