Friday, 4 May 2012

398: Brideshead Revisited

“Brideshead Revisited” was adapted for British TV as a lengthy, lavish filmed extravaganza featuring any number of theatrical knights and making heart throbs of the two male leads Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews in the autumn of 1981. Amidst all the architecture and art, Catholicism and history, locations, and tony acting one of the things that was picked up by audiences was the assorted homosexual elements in Evelyn Waugh’s novel now made explicit or blatant on the screen. There are a couple of camp characters in the book, but it was the romantic friendship between Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte that was most conspicuous. In the parlance of the day, the two leads in this prestige drama were a couple of “nancy boys” who unabashedly enjoyed one others company if not explicitly homoerotically:

“Punch” 28 Oct 81
"What’s On:"
Gay Catholic Graduates Against Brideshead:
Was Waugh unfair to minorities? Did Flyte have a grant? What are the erogenous zones on stuffed bears?
Rally Thursday, Vatican debating chamber

Michael Heath
“Spectator”, 14 November 1981

“The Gays”, Michael Heath
“Private Eye”, 20 November 1981

“Private Eye”, 18 December 1981
Going one step further than the flesh on show in the programme, is this pastiche of the sort of competition that tabloid newspapers used to run – so also a satirical jab at the mores of different types of classes of cultural consumers.

Amost three years later, “Brideshead Revisited”’s gayness still enough of a common currency to provoke this little tossed off one-line squib:

“Punch” 13 June 1984
“Brideshead Guide to Homosexuality in County Houses Open to the Public”

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