Ben Wishaw cast for BBC4’s Queers, directed by Mark Gatiss

Ben Wishaw stars in Queers on BBC 4Curated by the brilliant Mark Gattis (Sherlock Series 4), Queers is a new anthology monologue series announced to air on BBC4 with a stellar cast that includes Ben Wishaw (Spectre), and wide range of new and celebrated writers behind it. The eight-part monologues have been commissioned as part of the BBC’s Gay Britannia season planned for summer 2017.

The season is its response to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offenses Act, which partially decriminalised homosexual acts between men who had previously been persecuted for their way of life. The eight 15-minutes monologues will be screened on BBC4 with an air date expected in early August 2017.

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The production is being created in partnership with the Old Vic Theatre in London, which will stage each of the monologues in the last weekend of July before they go on to be screened on BBC4.

The BBC has already confirmed a number of the monologues for Queers and the first is led by Ben Wishaw of James Bond Spectre fame. His monologue is called The Man On The Platform and it is delivered from the perspective of a soldier who has recently returned from the trenches of the First World War.

Fast forwarding to more of a modern day setting, Alan Cummings looks back on a gay marriage in a monologue entitled, Something Borrowed. Russell Toby stars in More Anger as a gay actor during the 1980s with the HIV crisis at its most devastating. The last of the monologues that have been detailed stars Rebecca Front (War and Peace, Humans Series 3) in Missing Alice as she discusses her marriage.

The rest of the monologues include The Perfect Gentleman starring Gemma Whelan, The Safest Spot In Town starring Kadiff Kirwan, I Miss The War starring Ian Galder and A Grand Day Out starring Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk).

Queers reflects on the 1957 Wolfenden Report, the impact of HIV and AIDS and the 1967 Sexual Offences Act itself, along with the societal responses to them. For anyone not familiar with the Wolfenden Report, it’s a government document produced in 1957 following several significant trials including that of Alan Turing and Lord Montagu. It’s recommendations went against the conventions of the day saying that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence, paving the way for the introduction of the Sexual Offenses Act ten years later.

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It looks like an ambitious production, and with Mark Gattis curating, were expecting Queers to include as much comedy as there is a tragedy and more serious contemplation. It’s taking on the challenge of recounting the more recent elements of British gay history and it’s going to be presenting it in a very unique way.

Mark Gatiss confirming Queers on Twitter:

Mark Gatiss announces Queers on Twitter

The anthology of monologues have been written by Matthew Baldwin, Jon Bradfield, Michael Dennis, Keith Jarrett and Gareth McLean, who make their TV debuts in the series. They’re joined by Jackie Clune, Brian Phillis and Mark Gattis himself.

In addition to writing one of the monologues and curating the rest, Mark is also the director for the series, building on his impressive back catalogue (Sherlock, The League Of Gentlemen). With the success of the fourth series of Sherlock and the potential of an Anniversary Special for The League Of Gentlemen, Mark is definitely one of the most important contributors to the BBC at the moment.

The stage performances of the eight monologues of Queers at the Old Vic Theatre are open to the public; with the first night of the production planned for Friday 28th of July, running until the end of the month. Tickets are already on sale and will undoubtedly sell out fast.

By Gerard Harris

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