The made-for-television movie ‘An Englishman in New York’ premièred this evening on ITV1 at 9pm. Very, very good indeed. Probably the best quality drama I’ve seen this Christmas (there has been a lot of dross on, unsurprisingly).
John Hurt in the leading role of Crisp was exceptional. Cynthia Nixon (who plays Miranda in Sex & The City) was also in it.
An Englishman who found fame late in life, he eschewed England and its backward judgemental society to make his home in New York.
Born Denis Charles Pratt, he was an English writer and raconteur. He became a gay icon in the 1970s after publication of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant, brought to the attention of the general public his defiant exhibitionism and longstanding refusal to remain in the closet. (Source: Wikipedia).
Lauded in some quarters as the herald of the gay rights movement – but by others – even within the gay community – he was demonised for both perpetuating negative stereotypes of gay people whilst simultaneously being homophobic and unsympathetic. Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, commenting in The Telegraph, has been especially critical of Crisp who he himself once met:
“For gay men, he was a terrible role model and certainly never used his celebrity status positively. He disgracefully dismissed Aids as a ‘fad.’ He said gay men were incapable of love and said that they had ‘feminine minds’ which made him a misogynist as well as a homophobe.”
While Tatchell considered Hurt’s performance as Crisp to have been “stunning,” he didn’t see why his life should be celebrated. “Along with Larry Grayson and John Inman, he confirmed rather than challenged prejudices.” Source: Telegraph.
The Guardian has a very interesting article on the film and on Crisp himself.