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gay for today

7/10
Author: jaibo from England
26 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a young gay man, this Play For Today (one of the last of that strand) was one of the first gay-themed programmes I ever saw on the TV, and the memory has stayed with me until today. The piece concerns a married man who, behind his wife's back, hangs out at the local cottage (public lavatory). One day he almost gets caught in a police raid; he hides in his van along with a younger man who is more openly gay. The two of them end up having sex in the van (with an attitude of "well, we might as well seeing as we're here") and from there, the "straight" guy begins seeing the gay man on a regular basis. Eventually, the wife finds out and goes barmy - in a particularly envelope-pushing line for the time, she threatens to cut her rivals c**k off! At the end, the straight guy rejects the fella and makes up with him wife, but there's a killer last shot: the straight guy is driving his van along a street and can't keep his eye off the butt of the young man on a bike in front of him!

I'd never seen a story like this anywhere before, and I watched it (with my mother and her boyfriend) slightly mortified but mesmerized. The play is probably not a particularly inspiring piece of writing, and it was a dreary looking and feeling programme, but incredibly brave for its time. The action was back-scored to an intrusive extent by some rock songs, which IMDb and the bfi website tell me were by Tom Robinson, which makes sense - I remember them as being earnest and strained in the way that only he can write songs. I am not convinced by the 155 minute running time listed here and at the bfi site, and if it was that long, they sure must have stretched the material out!

I'd love to see it again, and it certainly merits some kind of release of re-showing as an early sympathetic representation of gay desire and drama on mainstream UK TV.

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