a drama by Adrian Shergold
2007 | 95 mins | UK
›› Clapham Junction
a violent reminder that homophobia hasn't gone away
Clapham Junction by Adrian Shergold Screened by Channel 4 as the centrepiece of their week long series of programmes marking the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation (in part) of homosexual acts in England and Wales, this powerful drama from the pen of Kevin Elyot of My Night with Reg fame, offers a timely reflection on the major advances that have been made in homosexual visibility in the UK since 1967, only to cut to the chase by reminding us that the rise in gay visibility has seemingly gone hand in hand with the rise of homophobic violence.

In detailing such, Elyot delivers a work that interweaves five separate stories into one overall narrative, showcasing "the mixed experiences of several gay men whose lives interconnect over thirty-six hours." From the like of two lovers celebrating their civil partnership, to a young man devoted to the welfare of his Nan, to the story of a schoolboy with the hots for a man twice his age, to a couple hosting a stylish dinner party, aided by a maid whose son walks a lonely path home.

Yet not everything is as it appears, given each character has a far more complicated tale to tell. Namely stories of a schoolboy unaware of the predatory history of the man he courts, to the like of a groom who cannot keep his philandering hands off a cute cater-waiter, only for the waiter to chance upon the man devoted to his Nan later that night and a man who is all too keen to show his less than caring side to a stranger mourning the death of his mother. Then again, death is the dominant theme here, given the jovial atmosphere of the dinner party is brought to an abrupt halt, when the lights of the police cars signal that yet another brutal assault on Clapham Common has taken place. But then, is a homophobic attack anything new in these days of so-called sexual tolerance?

Clapham Junction by Adrian Shergold In short, here was a made-for-TV drama that dared to question the true degree of homosexual acceptance by the society of today. Only the result is perhaps not a picture that some would wish to see, given this marked a first class, if at times bleak production, one graphic in terms of gay sex, male nudity and acts of bloody violence. It is a work backed by a fine cast, including Samantha Bond, Richard Lintern, Joseph Mawle and Paul Nicholls, with Nicholls notably casting aside his lover boy image by way of a sharp portrayal of a man with a vicious side to his nature. Yet this drama also made for a fitting screen reunion for Maurice stars Rupert Graves and James Wilby, including the heartfelt plead from Graves to Wilby to help find "the bastards who did it ... because next time, it could be one of us."

Cited by some as a gross misrepresentation of what it means to be gay today, the fact that this work did provoke such a reaction, only added to the debate on its underlying message, namely that next time, it could well be you or me. For regardless of the pros and cons of cruising; outside of the gay bars, gay clubs and gay-friendly coffee shops; outside of the gay community itself, just how tolerant is society to homosexuality forty years on from the passing of the Homosexual Reform Act? Tragically on the night of the 14th October 2005, twenty-four-year-old Jody Dobrowski came face to face with the answer on Clapham Common, his life having been and in the words of his family "brutally and mercilessly punched and kicked from him." Whether such incidents are truly on the increase is cause for heated debate. What is not in dispute however, are the documented attacks themselves. All of which makes this hard-hitting drama, an all the more pressing work.
a Channel 4 drama premiere: Sunday 22 July 2007
starring: Paul Nicholls, Rupert Graves, James Wilby, Samantha Bond, Tom Beard, Rachael Blake, Phoebe Nicholls,
Adrian Rawlins, Luke Treadaway, Joseph Mawle, Stuart Bunce, Richard Lintern, David Leon,
Clare Perkins, Jared Thomas, Lucy Russell, Neil Pearson, Francis Lee,
June Watson, David Ryall, Richard Freeman
Copyright 2007 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #125
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