A 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 McNallly (Richard Gadd) was pressured by authorities to out him, Montagu and Michael Pitt-Rivers in one of the most intense court cases of the 1950s.
With his career and personal life in shambles, Wildeblood began his sentence a broken man. However, as the film explores, once he reentered society, he made it his mission to do all he could to change Great Britain’s laws against homosexuality. This fight would eventually lead to the passage of the Sexual Offences Act, which in 1967 decriminalized private same-sex acts in England and Wales.
“I’m incredibly proud to be part of a drama that tells such an important real-life story,” said Mays. “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 will also star Mark Gatiss (Taboo, Sherlock) as Wildeblood’s prison psychiatrist, Doctor Landers and Charlie Creed-Miles as Superintendent Jones.
Additionally, it will feature real-life testimonies given by a chorus of men who lived through the period in which LGBT Brits were routinely imprisoned or forced to undergo dangerous therapies to cure them of their “condition.”
The drama’s announcement came just a week after thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of sex crimes under historic anti-LGBT laws were posthumously pardoned by the UK government.
“I thought it would be valuable to remind people that this is within living memory and that there are people with us still who have felt the full force of that homophobic law,” said the drama’s director, Fergus O’Brien. “It seems very timely to show just how quickly things can change, for the better luckily. But unless we safeguard these advances these things could also change for the worse.”
Against the Law is set to hit UK screens on BBC Two this July.