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These nostalgic British LGBTI TV shows have to be on BritBox

These nostalgic British LGBTI TV shows have to be on BritBox

a group of good looking people standing in a group looking up at the camera

British broadcasters BBC and ITV sent Twitter into a meltdown when they announced they are in the final stages of bringing a new streaming service to the UK.

Appropriately titled, BritBox, would stream British boxsets and original content on demand. The hotly anticipated streaming service would feature the biggest collection of British content available on any streaming service. It would also commission brand new British productions specifically created for BritBox.

‘BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity – celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British originated content in the future,’ said Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV.

BBC and ITV said they aimed to launch the service in the second half of 2019, and know from research ‘that there is a real appetite for a new British streaming service’.
But that got the team at Gay Star News thinking. Both BBC and ITV have been responsible for some of the most iconic LGBTI moments on British television, so which shows would we like to see included on BritBox?

1. The Naked Civil Servant (1975)

a vintage promotional shot featuring a camp looking john hurt in a suit
John Hurt as Quentin Crisp | Photo: IMDB

This groundbreaking drama first aired on ITV back in December 1975.

Starring John Hurt, it was a dramatization of the memoir of Quentin Crisp, a London-based gay man who had been out and proud about his homosexuality since the early 20th century.

The film propelled Crisp to fame, and also bought Hurt’s acting skills to a wider audience. Hurt was to again play the role of Crisp in a follow-up drama, An Englishman in New York, in 2009.

2. Beautiful People (2008)

three young people dressed in colourful clothes posing for the camera in a corridor
Beautiful People starred Oscar winner Olivia Colman | Photo: IMDB

There have been a lot of stories of queer kids going from suburbia to the big city. But none other are as effortlessly charming as Beautiful People.

The show was based on the memoirs of Barneys creative director Simon Doonan and adapted by Beautiful Thing playwright Jonathan Harvey.

It was camp, it gave us nostalgia for the 90s, a predecessor in some ways to Glee. Plus it’s got future Oscar winner Olivia Colman.

What’s not to love?

3. Boy Meets Girl (2015)

two people, a couple, standing close together smiling at the camera
Boy Meets Girl had the first trans actress playing a trans person in a lead role | Photo: IMDB

This show had a lot to achieve. It had to be the first BBC sitcom to star a trans actress in a trans role as the lead. The show also had to portray trans people in a positive and inclusive light. And it also had to be funny.

The way it managed it was by taking inspiration from other classic BBC romantic comedies like Gavin & Stacey. In its two seasons, it achieved all three goals.

While British TV is far from trans inclusive now, Boy Meets Girl at least was a start to change television for the better.

4. Brideshead Revisited (1981)

a vintage shot of a camp man in a suit holding a glass of red wine
Nikolas Grace in Brideshead Revisited | Photo: IMDB

A lavish, mini-series dramatization of Evelyn Waugh’s epic novel, which focuses on the friendship between Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons) and the aristocratic Flyte family, initially through his friendship with Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews).

Sebastian is obviously gay, but it’s never quite clear how intimate with Ryder becomes (Waugh’s novel was also vague). A huge hit for ITV in 1981, it featured stellar acting talent, with John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Claire Bloom.

A movie version was made in 2008 with Ben Wishaw playing the role of Sebastian.

5. Two of Us (1987)

The promotional poster for The Two Of Us
The promotional poster for The Two Of Us | Photo: IMDB

Two of Us made waves when it was produced by the BBC in 1987.

Not only was it a gay-themed drama but it was made as part of the broadcaster’s school’s programme, aimed for showing to young adults at school. However, such was the controversy that the BBC eventually aired it late at night. It only received its first daytime transmission in 1990.

It’s a cute drama about two young men who fall find themselves attracted to one another.

6. Gimme Gimme Gimme (1999)

a group of people in a flat pulling funny faces
Gimme Gimme Gimme was writer Jonathan Harvey’s follow-up to Queer As Folk | Photo: IMDB

Screenwriter Jonathan Harvey’s camp sitcom split audiences when it debuted in 1999.

Following the hard-edged depiction of gayness featured in Channel 4’s Queer As Folk, Gimme’s Tom Farrell (James Dreyfus) seemed like a throwback to more stereotypical times.

However, audiences quickly warmed to his friendship with slovenly flatmate Linda La Hughes (Kathy Burke). The show ran for three seasons.

7. The Story of Tracy Beaker (2002), Tracy Beaker Returns (2010) and The Dumping Ground (2013)

a close up of a teenage girl with her head tilted to the side resting on her hand. her curly hair is tied up high in a ponytail
Dani Harmer as Tracy Beaker | Photo: IMDB

While much of the Tracy Beaker franchise’s LGBT representation didn’t come until the latest show in the series (The Dumping Ground, which first aired in 2013), the character and story of Tracy Beaker has always been loved by the public.

The books the franchise are based on, written by popular author Jaqueline Wilson, were the most-loaned books from public libraries in the UK between 2000 and 2010.

The first LGBT character, Elektra, appeared in Tracy Beaker Returns in 2011.

Then, throughout The Dumping Ground, we see four more LGBT women appear. Two of them (Ronnie and Dawn) were a same-sex couple featured looking to adopt.

Also in The Dumping Ground, we watch as lesbian caseworker May-Li deals with homophobic family, potentially being deported from the UK, and having a child through IVF.

8. Footballers Wive$

a group of good looking people standing in a group looking up at the camera
Footballer$ Wives featured a storyline about a gay footballer | Photo: IMDB

So Footballers Wive$ ran on ITV for 5 seasons from 2002 to 2006 and featured a gay storyline from central person of color (POC) character, footballer Noah Alexander.

The show aired gay sex scenes between him and a male prostitute in a set up by ‘superbitch’ footballer’s wife Tanya.

At the time, the show was watched by 6 million people and featured more explicit sex scenes and nudity than any other show on air, gaining it a cult following and a legacy that lives on today.

Personally, Footballers Wive$ played a big part in me discovering my sexuality as it was the first time I’d seen gay sex scenes on prime time TV – and they were all super hot!

ITV controversially chopped the gay sex scenes from later repeats of the show as they deemed them too explicit even for after the watershed – but i want to see them back on our screens on BritBox!

9. South (1959)

A still from the 1959 BBC show South, two men are standing next to eachother, one has his hand on the other man's shoulder
A still from the 1959 BBC show South | Photo: IMDB

What is thought to be the earliest surviving gay-themed British TV drama beamed into TV boxes in November 1959.

South aired live on ITV as their ‘Play of the Week’, centered on dashing Polish army lieutenant Jan Wicziewsky exiled into a Deep South plantation.

As the Civil War beckons, an equally-dashing rugged officer Eric MacClure enters the scene, causing Wicziewsky to question his darkest secret.  Can he love another man?

Though the word is not said, a TV play tackling homosexuality in the late 50s, when it was illegal, was nothing short of remarkable.  South was slated after its broadcast, with a Daily Sketch reporter saying: ‘I do NOT see anything attractive in the agonies and ecstasies of a pervert’.

10. Killing Eve

a woman in a pink fluffy dress sitting on a couch
Jodie Comer plays psychopathic killer Villanelle in Killing Eve | Photo: IMDB

Former MI5 officer Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) becomes obsessed with taking down psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Their unlikely connection blurs the lines between charmingly intimate to downright absurd. Although it only came out last year, this psychological thriller combines humor with intensity for an award-winning show. The women-led cast of Killing Eve would be a great addition to Britbox. Season two will premiere in the US on 7 April.