entertainment

New BBC drama to explore infamous Lord Montagu gay sex trial

2017-02-08
A powerful new drama based on the 1954 trial of Conservative English politician Lord Montagu for gay sex offences is coming to the BBC this year. Against the Law will follow the story of gay journalist Peter Wildeblood (Rogue One's Daniel Mays) whose lover Eddie McNally (Richard Gadd), under pressure from authorities, gave evidence against him, Montagu, and Michael Pitt-Rivers, in one of the most explosive court cases of the 1950s. With his career and personal life in tatters, Wildeblood began his sentence a broken man, but he emerged from prison a year later determined to do all he could to change the way Britain's draconian laws against homosexuality impacted on the lives of men like him. Speaking about the drama, star Daniels Mays said: “I’m incredibly proud to be part of a drama that tells such an important real-life story. Peter Wildeblood is a fascinating, complex, yet flawed character from a time when being a gay man in Britain was incredibly difficult - I can’t wait to bring his tale to life for the BBC Two audience.” The drama is also set to feature Mark Gatiss (Taboo, Sherlock) as Wildeblood’s prison psychiatrist, Doctor Landers and Charlie Creed-Miles (Ripper Street, Peaky Blinders) as Superintendent Jones. Part of the powerful drama will be real-life testimonies from a chorus of men who lived through those dark days, when homosexuals were routinely imprisoned or forced to undergo chemical aversion therapy in an attempt to cure them of their ‘condition’. It will also include testimony from a retired police officer whose job it was to enforce these laws, and a former psychiatric nurse who administered the so-called cures. All of the accounts add to the drama and show the dark reality of the past that people alive today went through. The drama'a announcement comes just a week after thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under the UK’s historical anti-gay laws have been posthumously pardoned after the so-called “Turing’s Law” took effect today on January 31. First announced last year, the legislation pardoned an estimated 49,000 men convicted of consensual same-sex relations before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967. BBC Two Channel Editor Patrick Holland said in a statement: “50 years ago, it was a crime to be a gay man in the UK. Against the Law is a stunning piece that melds drama and documentary testimony to tell the story of one man, and his wider generation, as they struggled to make society accept their sexuality as non-criminal. "It is brilliant to have a film that brings the authorship of Brian Fillis, the vision of director Fergus O'Brien, and the outstanding talent of Daniel Mays and cast to this important subject” Against the Law is set to hit UK screens on BBC Two later in the year. More stories: How Instagram became the new gay cruising ground ‘There’s more to me than just a body’ – Tom Daley dives into Attitude’s Body Issue