Against the Law

Synopsis: In 1952 journalist Peter Wildeblood, at a time when same-sex was a crime, picks up RAF corporal Eddie McNally, thus beginning a love affair, often conducted through letters. Peter introduces him to Edward, Lord Montagu and the earl's cousin Michael Pitt-Rivers but Peter's love letters to Eddie lead to his arrest and, along with Montagu and Michael he is put on trial . McNally and Johnny Reynolds, another young gay from their circle, are granted immunity if they testify for the prosecution and the three defendants are all jailed. In prison Peter hears about the Wolfenden committee which, partly in response to public sympathy for the harsh treatment of gay men, is seeking to change the law and, on release, bravely and openly gives the committee evidence and advice. Nonetheless it will be a decade before homosexuality is decriminalized. As with Channel 4's treatment of the same case in 2007, 'A Very British Sex Scandal', the drama is intercut with interviews with elderly gay men, who, lik
84 min


DOOR SLAMS SHU Any man who takes a criminal path...

..should be mindful

of the consequences.

My name is Peter Wildeblood.


Order! Order!

May I ask the Right Honourable

Home Secretary

the number of cases

involving male perversion

this year, and how he intends to

deal with this evil?

Much of my private life has

already been made public

by the newspapers.

So I have nothing left to hide.

Roughly 5,500 offences have been


and over 600 offenders

sent to prison.

I don't pity myself

and I do not ask for pity.

But I am speaking out... give some hope and courage

to other men like myself,

and to the rest of the world some...


I am...a homosexual.

So as long as I hold office,

I shall give no countenance to

the view that they should not be

prevented from being such a danger.



Whisky, please.

Thank you.



INDISTINCT RAILWAY ANNOUNCEMEN I wonder, could I buy you a drink?

Doesn't work that way, darling.

Unless you're willing to

play the part.

Oh, no.

So you're not a queen, then?

It's a pity,

you're quite pretty, really.

Not a rough, either.

I'm a homosexual.

A what?

A homosexual.


I see.

I thought that was just something

doctors called us.

Do all the queens use this word now?

I don't know.

I'm not sure I like it.

Come along, Fanny dear.

See you later, dear heart.

Coming, Ducky.


At that particular time

there was a, you might call it

a purge,

on people who were gay.

We were considered sick.

We were considered, er, you know,

child molesters.

The police went out of their way to

catch you and...and...

and the Members of Parliament,

"This filth and this...

"This is going to ruin the nation,

we must...we must stub it out."

I can't remember

the name of the, erm,

the Home Secretary at the time,

but he was one of the worst.

David Maxwell Fyfe,

Sir David Maxwell Fyfe,

later Viscount Kilmuir.

Well, he embodied all the worst


of the British Establishment.

You could be arrested for just

looking at somebody... the street, you know, winking

at them or smiling at them.

And, er, I thought this is mad,

this world has gone a bit potty.

I have to say it made it

even more exciting

because, you know, it is exciting,

er, avoiding the police,

keeping a look out. It's like being

a member of an underground sect,

or something, er,

and you get a great kick out of it.

Wherever you went was liable to

be raided..., whether it was a pub or it was

a private drinking club

or it was a private party.

And you would have your name

and address printed in the paper.

Oh! Oh, I'm sorry! Oh.

It's... It's fine.

Um, do you need directions?


No, I'm, erm... I'm just...

I'm down off leave from Ely.

And, er, it's going to rain again.

Any minute.

So, um,

if you want to stay, there's a sofa,

which should be perfectly


Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it should.

Yeah, it's a bit small.

And besides... and I could, er, f*** here.

Live a little.



"You and I could f*** maybe?"


The romance of it.

Dead romantic.

That's one of my best lines.

You heading back to Ely?

In two days, yep.

So what do you do?

I'm a journalist.

Oh, right. Which paper?

The Mail.


Not really. It's...

Well, it's quite dull, actually.

Well, it was nice meeting you.

I'll, erm, you know?

Keep in touch. I mean it.

Do you want me to?

Well, yes. I... All right, then.

Being a gay was a very tricky


It was frowned upon by society,

it was punishable

by imprisonment, it was illegal,

it was everything you could mention.

I mean, you couldn't even

talk about it. Erm...

I felt very uncomfortable about it.


If heterosexuals had been subject

to the force of law for being

heterosexual, if their relations had

been frowned upon, it's most

unlikely that they would have

settled into long-term marriages.

They had public opinion

and the law behind them.

In the case of homosexuals, the law

and public opinion were very

distinctly against them, so I think

the whole climate was opposed to

the building of relationships.

In fact, I think many gay people

half believed, because they were

told so often, that if you were gay

you couldn't have a relationship.

It was a no-no,

so I had to be on my own.

And, erm, so I've been used to it,

since...since childhood,

being a loner. Never enjoyed it,

I can tell you, it was awful.

But that's the way it is.


Well, would you look at that.

He meant what he said.

Fancy a kickaround?

You're joking.

Not physical, then?

Not even at school?

Football? I was useless,

always the last to get picked.

I can imagine, actually.

I used to just gather with all

the other outcasts.

Teachers despised us for it.

One of them said,

"Oh, yes, there they are.

"The sops.

Sops of a feather flock together."

Come on.

Is that you? Oh, stop it!

We have to be a lot more

careful than that.

I know, I know, I'm...unschooled.

You're telling me.

Am I the only poof you know?

No. I know Edward, Lord Montagu,

through my work.

Smile all you like,

Mr Inverted Snob, he is very nice.

So it's love, then?

To be honest, I never thought you'd

come out of your shell far enough.

Neither did I.

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Brian Fillis

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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