“Much of the joy of James House’s fabulously entertaining documentary about gay culture’s infiltration of the arts lies in the glee of its contributors at the barriers broken down and taboos busted.” The Times
“Impassioned, personal and often very funny.” The Guardian
“This glance back at queer influence in British culture is teeming with talking heads of the highest order.” The Telegraph
“A great watch, alive with insights and observations, with everyone from Sandi Toksvig to David Hockney to Richard Coles giving their take on the landmarks and tensions of the past 50 years.” Radio Times
This film invites a stellar cast of interviewees from across the arts – including David Hockney, Stephen Fry, Val MacDermid, Nick Grimshaw, Sandi Toksvig, Alan Cumming, Will Young, Sir Antony Sher, Jeanette Winterson and Russell T Davies – to reflect on the contribution of lesbian and gay people to British cultural life since the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality 50 years ago.
Ranging broadly across popular culture, the visual arts, literature, theatre and film, the programme celebrates how the British arts, before 1967 and since, have been a haven for those growing up creative and gay.
The film considers how artists’ sexuality might have shaped their art, often giving it a unique outsider’s perspective on British life, and a sometimes subversive sense of wit and style. Artists produced sophisticated work that excited audiences with its ‘otherness’, bringing new types of characters to television and film, gender ambiguity to pop music, and glimpses of bohemia in the visual arts. These have remained driving forces for British art to this day.
But the film also asks whether growing acceptance has been to some extent a double-edged sword for artists themselves. Has homosexuality’s move towards the mainstream made the exploration of queer themes less urgent and less interesting?
Now that there is a range of wide gay lifestyles on show in British culture, the question of how much an artist’s sexuality really matters to their art has become inescapable.
1×1 hour for BBC2