Man In An Orange Shirt sheds light on 'cruel' government
Vanessa Redgrave thinks her new drama 'Man In An Orange Shirt' highlights the government's historically "cruel" attitude towards sexuality.
The Oscar-winning actress stars in the programme about a pair of World War II soldiers who fall in love in secret but are torn apart by their obligation to get married to women when they return home, and says it lays bare the "harsh" discrimination toward gay and lesbian people from those in power.
Speaking at a screening and Q&A for the upcoming two-part BBC drama, the star said: "It it really is superb work and I'm so glad that finally we are in this position...
"How we dared call ourselves a democracy when up until 1967 [it was illegal to be gay]. The cruelty we showed when most of the men who consigned the men and women to jail they had done every kind of thing themselves but they had this very harsh and cruel attitude.
"My father was bisexual and a lot of his friends were gay - and I'm sure there were plenty of lesbians in the group too - and to protect themselves they always protected each other."
The 80-year-old star - who plays wife and grandmother Flora in the TV adaptation written by Patrick Gale - also urged people to fight against labels.
She added: "Everything we are is not to be defined and categorised... we cannot do this total stupid rubbish, and this film is a wonderful oceanic wave carrying us through all the s**t."
'Man In An Orange Shirt' is part of the BBC's celebration of gay Britannia month and in the story a young Flora, played by Joanna Vanderham, discovers her husband's heartfelt messages from his lover and after initially confronting him in an explosive row, she suppresses the secret until her grandson Adam (Julian Morris) comes out to her 60 years later.
Patrick based the script on his parent's marriage and admitted his own mother found letters sent to his father by his male lover.
Gale told the audience: "I want to know what my late father really thought about my being gay.
"Mum found the letters, but she buried the secret and just told me when I came out to her at 22.
"To my dying shame I never had that conversation with my father."
'Man In An Orange Shirt' will air on BBC Two later in July.