Channel 4 drama celebrates gay rights turning point

Rachel Charman May 25, 2007
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A dramatisation of the trial of Lord Edward Montagu and Peter Wildeblood on Channel 4 will mark the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act.

The 90-minute drama entitled The Last Gay Trial is being made by Blast Films and features Orlando Wells, last seen in the West End’s The History Boys , as Montagu, and Martin Hutson as Wildeblood.

The programme also stars former Emmerdale actor Karl Davies.

Montagu and Wildeblood, a Daily Mail journalist, were arrested and tried for attempts to incite others to homosexual acts in 1954.

Both were imprisoned for 12 months.

Whilst Montagu continued to protest his innocence, Wildeblood became one of the first men in Britain to publicly declare his homosexuality.

Public support for the two led to the 1957 Wolfenden Report, which Wildeblood gave evidence for.

The report was a deciding factor in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.

The drama was commissioned by Channel 4 Head of Specialist Factual Hamish Mykura.

He told “The Last Gay Trial reclaims this intriguing story as a really important historical turning point – the moment when the public mood swings suddenly against the routine suppression of homosexuality.”

The programme will air in July as part of Channel 4’s season marking the 1967 Act.

The season will feature Kevin Elyot’s Clapham Junction , which examines the lives of seven gay men over 36 hours as they visit Clapham Common looking for sex.

The film was inspired the by homophobic murder of 24-year-old Jody Dobrowski on the Common in 2005.

It is expected to attract controversy for its explicit portrayals of gay sex and of homophobic violence.

Elyot, best known as the author of the Olivier award-winning 1995 play My Night with Reg said:

“Though homosexuality would seem to be more accepted and legitimised through civil partnerships, there still seems to be a disturbing amount of homophobic violence and homophobic attitudes sometimes coming from surprising quarters.”

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