entertainment

Against the Law star 'blown away' by support from both gay and straight viewers

2017-09-01
Daniel Mays says staring in BBC's gay drama Against The Law has been something of a game-changer for him, both career-wise and in his own personal life. The 39-year-old actor, who played journalist Peter Wildeblood in the hard-hitting dramatisation of the infamous Montagu Trial of 1954, says starring in the show was a "transformative" experience. "Purely from an acting point of view the role was unlike anything I had ever attempted before," he tells the new issue of You're Welcome. "Not only was I was playing someone of a different sexuality, his characteristics were different to mine and he was someone of a different class to me. It was the most transformative thing I’ve ever taken on. It was an incredible experience and I relished it." Mays says that he knew nothing about real-life gay rights campaigner Peter Wildeblood when he was offered the role "out of the blue". "The BBC wanted to commemorate his life and what he achieved," Mays says. "I was actually educating myself at the same time." When it aired in August, the reaction was unanimously positive and Mays was thrilled by the responses. "I’ve been blown away," he says. "Obviously with the LGBT community it has really resonated, but even among the straight community, they were shocked to hear about aversion therapy and the draconian measures that gay people had to undergo at the time. "You can’t help but be moved by the story of Peter’s journey and what he went through. In many respects, he is something of an unsung hero," he adds. "Once he had written his book, he slipped back into obscurity. I think it’s a wondrous thing that his life and what he did has now been celebrated like this." Mays insists that the programme - which formed part of the BBC's Gay Britannia season celebrating 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales - is even more important given current global events. "The political landscape at the moment is unsettling," he observes. "We have the DUP and we all know what their stance is. We have Mike Pence in America, who has backed conversion therapy. "And there are still countries around the world that consider being gay a criminal act. I really struggle to get my head around that. This film is an important reminder that there is still a long way to go." You can read Daniel's full interview in the new issue of You're Welcome, available free at stations across central London.