TV Review: 50 Shades of Gay, Channel 4

Reporter:

Jamie Bowman

WITH its awful punning title, I half expected this documentary to be an hour-long romp rather than a sensitive and moving account of the changes in gay life in the five decades since male homosexuality was decriminalised.

It was fun too and that was mainly down to actor Rupert Everett, who made a very amusing guide as he did his best to find out what being gay in 2017 was all about.

First though there were some poignant trips down memory lane as Everett visited a boarded up public loo with a retired policeman who used to snare men for “importuning for an immoral purpose”.

It was an audacious start to a programme that wasn’t afraid to shock but it was also effective in showing just how far things have come – the dark, buried ruins of the lavatory was a very literal relic of the past echoing many of the arcane attitudes that surrounded homosexuality in the 1960s.

58-year-old Everett spoke with personal fondness about the scene that gathered around London’s Coleherne Arms in the 1970s, as he met fellow former regulars, and his genuine shock as he watches a series of racy scenes from teatime teen soap Hollyoaks is a delight.

When he meets the actors from the Chester-based show it’s another symbol of how far things have progressed, with the young men barely even realising they’re doing something on TV that would have been unthinkable even 20 years ago.

Everett also goes to the Lake District to meet Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell, who is marrying his partner.

The actor mucks in with the flower arranging and marvels at the fact two men can now get married in this most traditional of settings and with hardly a shrug of the shoulders from anyone, from the staff at the hotel to the media.

There’s still problems and taboos to be broken of course and it is pretty shocking when former BP boss Lord Browne alleges that two-thirds of graduates who have been openly gay at university go back into the closet when they begin working in the City.

But overall the tone of this well-made programme was optimistic and proud.

And that’s a good thing.

Email:

jamie.bowman@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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