Channel 4 to explore the history of homosexuality in Britain

Channel 4 to explore the history of homosexuality in Britain

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Alan Turing (Credit: WikiCommons)
Alan Turing (Credit: WikiCommons)

Channel 4 has commissioned a host of documentaries that explore the history behind momentous headlines including the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The channel will uncover the history of homosexuality laws and the evolving perceptions of homosexuality in Britain over the last 50 years in four documentaries and a collection of shorts.

Rob Coldstream, Commissioning Editor, Special Factual said: "History can tell us as much about the present day as it does about the past and I’m thrilled to announce this slate of programmes – it's incredibly wide ranging but at its heart is brilliant new journalism, and a fresh lens onto the past that offers new insights into our own times."

Not Guilty

Not Guilty tells the stories of some of the 15,000 British men living with criminal records for offences committed under anti-homosexuality laws in UK and their experiences long after the 1967 Act to decriminalise homosexuality in Britain. 

The documentary explores the recent pardons for those convicted under the Alan Turing law, with many demanding a full apology for their treatment and refusing to accept the pardon as an act of atonement.


Epidemic tells heart-warming story of the unlikely alliance of Tory politicians, pioneering doctors and gay men, who came together to fight AIDS in the 1980s.

The film shows how the coalition overcame homophobic press, and the hostile voice of Margaret Thatcher, to create a campaign that would change perspectives about AIDS and the gay community.

The campaign not only opened minds to homosexuality and the deadly disease, but also helped to create a more liberal Britain by talking about sex publicly.

50 Shades of Gay

In 50 Shades of Gay, Rupert Everett delves into the changes in gay life and culture over the last fifty years, speaking to men in their eighties who had experiences with palace guards, to young transgender people coming out in rural parts of the country.

Everett delivers his own personal take on how gay life has changed since 1967, reflecting on how far people have come in acceptance and openness, and what aspects of gay culture has faded into the mainstream over the years.

Coming Out

The documentary reflects on the fearless artists who used pop music and their status to promote the acceptance of homosexuality after it's legalisation 50 years ago.

The music world pioneered the revolution for openness to queer culture in the mainstream to open the minds and hearts of the nation.

Coming Out will take a look at the icons in music that encouraged the celebration of the gay community and made it OK to be gay. 

Random Acts

Channel 4's Random Acts will show six shorts directed by contemporary LGBTQ directors that explore queer identity.

The shorts will be shown on Channel 4 and in the Queer British Art 1861-1967 exhibition at Tate Britain from April to October.

As well as the season of documentaries exploring the years following the homosexuality legalisation, Channel 4 has commissioned three programmes that look into the history behind explosive royal and political headlines. 

Following the channel's successful documentaries Meet The Trumps: From Immigrant to President, and award-winning Interview With A Murderer on the channel, the documentaries will look into the secret life of Britain's Royal Family, and the world of secret intelligence.

The Royal House of Windsor

The six part series will reveal the inside story of Britain’s most powerful dynasty with new access to the Royal Family archives.

The series will take a look back from the beginning in 1917, when King George V changed the Royal Family's name during the war with Germany to 'Windsor', through to the dynasty's fight for survival in the modern world.

The Royal House of Windsor will offer the unique perspective of family insiders and key members of the Queen's extended family, reveal fresh research and access to the Royal Archives held at Windsor Castle.

Hunting the KGB Killers

The one-off documentary will divulge into the remarkable details of the investigation into the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

The real life thriller will recreate each step of the secretive police investigation that spanned the UK and Russia, detailing the unique police investigation that ultimately led to Vladimir Putin's Kremlin.

Hunting the KGB Killers includes key interviews from Scotland Yard detectives, doctors who treated Litvinenko after being poisoned with the rare toxin polonium 210, the then foreign secretary Dame Margaret Beckett, and exclusive interviews with Litvinenkos wife Marina and his son Anatoly.

It will be the first time key Scotland Yard detectives have spoken about the investigation to the media and the first time Anatoly has spoken on camera about the murder of his father.

Spying on the Royals

The two-part series will detail brand new information about the secret 20th century MI5 spying operation against Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

The documentary explores the scandalous royal romance through the words of the officers who targeted Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson's relationship, and gives an insight into the early days of covert government surveillance, bugs and wiretraps.

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