First-Ever Gay Drama Made for TV Discovered in England

The rediscovered drama "South" stars Peter Wyngarde (right) and Graydon Gould as the army officer he falls in love with. Photograph: British Film Institute via The Guardian

The rediscovered drama “South” stars Peter Wyngarde (right) and Graydon Gould as the army officer he falls in love with. Photograph: British Film Institute via The Guardian

The British Film Institute believes that they may have unearthed the first ever televised gay drama. South, adapted by Gerald Savory from an original play by Julien Green was aired on November 24 1959 and, according to The Guardian, “involves a dashing Polish army lieutenant exiled in the US deep south as civil war approaches and the question of who he really loves: the plantation owner’s angry niece, Miss Regina, or the tall, blond, rugged officer who arrives suddenly – a handsome man called Eric MacClure.” According to archivists, the fact that the drama ever aired in the UK is remarkable. Of course, during the late 1950s, you can expect that the reviewers weren’t particularly kind to the program. One review wrote: “I do NOT see anything attractive in the agonies and ecstasies of a pervert, especially in close-up in my living room. This is not prudishness. There are some indecencies in life that are best left covered up.” Homosexuality in Britain, in fact, wasn’t even decriminalized until 1967. For those lucky enough to be in London for the BFI’s 27th London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, you can check out the film this Saturday and Sunday.

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