BBC’s lost 1950s First Homosexual radio work to be staged

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A ground-breaking BBC radio documentary that was lost after airing in the 1950s is being brought back to life on the stage.

By Jennifer Harby
BBC News

The staging of the BBC’s The First Homosexual will take place at the New Adelphi Studio, in Salford, on 30 November.

Made in 1953, it was the BBC’s first documentary about gay men but the work was later lost.

The new production is based on the research of a Leicestershire academic.

Dr Marcus Collins, a reader in contemporary history at Loughborough University, has unearthed archive materials held by the BBC.

These include the full transcript of the original recording, BBC internal memos about the programme and letters from members of the public following the broadcast.

These materials have been adapted by award-winning playwright and director Dr Stephen M Hornby, who specialises in playwriting from archives.

He said: “I’ve mixed up fragments from the BBC archive with the fictional story of a young man exploring his sexuality in the 1950s.

“Through him, we get a window into being gay in the 1950s and we see the impact the documentary has upon him.

“It’s been hard to read some of the material at times, but it’s also been an honour to get this amazing insight into this lost programme.”

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