Words: Hugh Kaye
There have been some strange unions over the years: the woman who married a fairground ride (yes, it happened), Laurence Olivier playing Nazi Rudolf Hess in the abysmal Wild Geese II, peanut butter on burgers, and ketchup with bananas (yes, that happens too), Trump and the White House.
But no one could ever have expected to see Courtney Act in the most famous black chair on television. Yet she will be one of the contestants on Celebrity Mastermind (BBC1, Friday 21 December, 8.30pm).
Joining her is the gay pop-star-turned-vicar, the Rev Richard Coles. Presumably they won’t let him choose the works of The Communards as his specialist subject!
Meanwhile, the squealing you can hear is coming from Attitude’s editor in chief on learning that there is such a thing as a Mariah Carey night.
It starts with Christmas with Mariah Carey (C5, Weds 19 Dec, 8pm), which looks at what the festive period means to the star.
That’s followed by Mariah: The Diva, the Demons, the Drama (C5, Weds 19 Dec, 9pm), a one-off documentary focusing on the gay icon’s struggle with mental-health issues, and it’s all rounded off by A Christmas Melody (C5, Weds 19 Dec, 11.05pm), a musical fantasy directed by and starring Mariah.
Colin Firth was nominated for an Oscar in the rather more mainstream film A Single Man (Sony Movie Channel, Sunday 16 Dec, 11.50pm). He plays a college professor in 1960s Los Angeles, who’s struggling to come to terms with death of his long-term partner in a car crash.
The film also features Nicholas Hoult, the star of About a Boy – revealing that he is certainly not a boy any more! The film is based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood and written for the screen, and directed by, Tom Ford. You can’t get much gayer that that.
There’s a film theme to The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, Fri 21 Dec, 10.35pm), when Ben Whishaw pops up on the sofa to discuss his role as the grown-up Michael Banks in the long-awaited Mary Poppins Returns. I’m just amazed it’s taken more than 50 years for Disney to come up with the idea.
On a more serious note, this week’s episode of The 90s: How They Changed Our World (H2, Sat 15 Dec, 9pm) includes a look at the fight for LGBT+ rights (although on the evidence of previous programmes like this, not a very detailed one), and Soft Cell singer Marc Almond will celebrate the work of Judy Garland in Passions (Sky Arts, Mon 17 Dec, 8pm).
Returning to strange mash-ups, who dreamt up the idea of a game show revolving around celebrities eating out where one of them gets stuck with the bill?
Among those enjoying the meal (unless he loses, I guess) in I’ll Get This (BBC2, Thurs 20 Dec, 11.15pm) is Rylan Clark-Neal. And keeping to the food theme – well, that’s what the festive season is all about – pansexual comedian Joe Lycett is one of the guests invited to Mary Berry’s Christmas Party (BBC1, Mon 17 Dec, 8.30pm).
If you are looking for “sad” and “dark”, try The Heroes of Evil on Netflix. Screened at Outfest2015, it’s been described as a gay love story but it is also about mental-health issues and the consequences of bullying and being made to feel like an outcast. Be warned, you’ll need a strong stomach to watch it to the end.
Also on the streaming service is 100 Men in which, well, 100 men reflect on 40 years of gay history as Kiwi filmmaker Paul Oremland counts down his own favourite sexual moments.
But, if you’re expecting loads of wank material, try chaturbate instead: this is more about social change. Also try Zenne Dancer, in which a gay man is inspired to come out to his conservative family by a male belly dancer.