Channel 4 is marking 50 years of Pride in the UK with a special season of landmark programmes and specials. This bumper season of high profile content will reflect on the incredible achievements and challenges of advancing LGBTQ+ rights and visibility over the last half century, while also platforming the diversity of identity and sexuality in the 2020s.
At the centre of the season will be a pair of new factual commissions. 50 Years of Pride (w/t) will be a landmark documentary on the history of the movement in the UK, made in collaboration with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stephen Daldry and playwright Joe Robertson. The film will be told through first-person testimony and archive footage, hearing from those who faced down intense hostility and discrimination at the start, as well as from a younger generation for whom Pride has always been part of their life and identity. Focusing in on trans history, April Ashley (w/t) will be the first in-depth feature documentary on this trailblazer for trans woman in the UK. Ashley, who died last year at the age of 86, was one of the country’s most prominent transgender women – a model, dancer and restaurateur whose rollercoaster life took her from the slums to wartime Liverpool to a world of celebrity friendships, a landmark divorce trial, and an MBE for services to equality. Both films will go out around the anniversary of the first UK Gay Pride Rally which was held in London on 1st July 1972.
Celebrity Gogglebox will see a mix of series favourites and some of Britain’s best loved LGBTQ+ personalities – including Rylan and his mum Linda, Nick Grimshaw and his niece Liv, and Paul Sinha and his husband Oliver – take to their sofas, ready to share their views with the nation for a very special Pride anniversary episode. Further names of those taking part will be revealed in due course. There will also be special compilations of Naked Attraction and First Dates celebrating some of the memorable LGBTQ+ contributors across both shows, each of which have consistently showcased diversity and inclusion.
To be shown later in the year, Outed: George Michael and the Fight for Freedom (w/t) will be a two-part re-examining the pop icon’s 1998 outing as a gay man and how he refused to be ashamed. The film will feature other public figures who were outed by the press to unpack this watershed moment in British history.
Across All 4 there will be a special collection of content that reflects on how Channel 4 has been at the forefront of pushing LGBTQ boundaries with ground-breaking programming. Film4 and Channel 4 will be showing a number of films exploring representation-from ground-breaking classics like My Beautiful Laundrette and Buddies to recent hits like Rocketman, Gods Own Country and Love, Simon.
Louisa Compton, Head of News, Current Affairs, Specialist Factual and Sport who is overseeing the Pride season says: “Channel 4 has been responsible for more outstanding LGBTQ+ content over its 40 years than any other public service broadcaster -often commissioning content others wouldn’t touch, from award-winning dramas It’s A Sin, Queer As Folk, and Brookside to innovative factual stories including Football's Coming Out, Genderquake, and Hollyoaks: Gay Dads Forever. It only seems fitting that at this important moment for LGBTQ+ history in the UK we do what we’ve always done, double down on our commitment to agenda-setting programming with exciting new commissioning and All 4 firsts. The announcement today is only the start of the Channel’s year-round Pride celebration – plenty more to come in due course.
Notes to editors
50 YEARS OF PRIDE (w/t)
1 x 90
Production Company: BBC Studios Documentary Unit in association with the BFI
Producer/Director: Peter Sweasey and Kim Maddever
Executive Produces: Stephen Daldry and Alexander Leith
Commissioning Editor: Shaminder Nahal
Channel 4 has commissioned a feature-length documentary from BBC Studios to mark the 50th anniversary of Pride in the UK, made in collaboration with filmmaker Stephen Daldry & playwright Joe Robertson.
Since 1972, each summer brave bands of men, women and non-binary protesters have marched the streets of Britain for recognition and equality. Over the years, Pride has developed from a small scale protest march to a spectrum of parades and events across Britain which annually draw many millions of participants and spectators. Pride has become a mass celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.
This documentary will reveal the surprising and overlooked history of Pride: its origins, its struggles and its triumphs. Made in creative and editorial collaboration with acclaimed filmmaker Stephen Daldry and playwright Joe Robertson, the documentary will tell the story of Pride primarily through first-person testimony and archive footage. We'll hear from people who shaped the movement from the start, facing down intense hostility and discrimination, as well as from a younger generation for whom Pride has always been part of their life and identity. The film will also tackle difficult questions: is Pride sufficiently inclusive of all voices in the LGBTQ+ community? Is it a protest or a celebration? Has Pride sold out? This is a love letter to Pride… but a love letter from a slightly grumpy lover.
The film will – by turn – be heart-warming, mischievous, funny, shocking, and moving, as it explores the sea change in attitudes that have characterised the last half-century, and explores the ways in which these changes have been influenced by and reflected at Pride. It will tell some remarkable personal stories of courage, love, support, anger and determination that have defined 50 years of UK Pride. Fabulous costumes and an incredible soundtrack are all but guaranteed…
APRIL ASHLEY (w/t)
Production Company: Swan Films
Executive Producers: Joe Evans and Neil Crombie
Director: Jane Preston
Commissioning Editor: Shaminder Nahal
This single documentary tells the epic story of how one transgender woman changed Britain and how Britain changed for transgender people. April, who died last year at the age of 86, was one of Britain’s most prominent transgender women – a model, dancer and restaurateur whose life took her from the slums of wartime Liverpool to the height of Knightsbridge society. In the late 1950s April became a dancer in an infamous Parisian nightclub, before travelling to Casablanca to undergo pioneering gender reassignment surgery. Returning to Britain she became a model for Vogue before being outed by a tabloid newspaper. From then on her life was a rollercoaster involving celebrity friendships, a landmark divorce trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, and an MBE for services to transgender equality. Through April’s story, and interviews with a stellar cast of contributors, the film will take the audience inside the intimate reality of the transgender experience, and explore how this celebrated trailblazer paved the way for future generations of transgender people.
OUTED: GEORGE MICHAEL AND THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM (w/t)
Production Company: Blast Films!
Series Director: Michael Ogden
Series Producer: Caroline Miller
Executive Producers: Edmund Coulthard
Commissioning Editor: Will Rowson
Channel 4 has commissioned Blast! Films to make Outed: George Michael and the Fight for Freedom (w/t) – a two-part documentary re-examining the watershed moment that the pop icon’s 1998 outing as a gay man and how he refused to be ashamed, speaking honestly about his sexuality, risking his career and his reputation. Reflecting on a time when the outing of gay men in the media was commonplace, the series will tell the story of a culture war – between those who wanted to turn the clock back on gay rights and the musicians, actors, sports stars and politicians who took on the haters – and won. In a first for British television, the documentary will use the first-person testimony from public figures who were outed by the press, as well as journalists of the era, to unpack the history of outing and the fight for LGBT people to be out, proud and free to be themselves.