Against the Law centres around as Peter Wildeblood (Daniel Mays) in a drama based on his autobiography, and as part of BBC’s Gay Britannia season, about how it’s 50 years this year since it was rightly legalised to be homosexual. However, what I did learn from this drama, is that the law could’ve been put in place so many years earlier, and that Peter was the catalyst for this, as he was one of the first in this country to declare in public that he was gay.
A 21-month relationship with army private Eddie McNally (Richard Gadd) led to both of them being jailed for around a year, but in such a blinkered world at the time, they got caught out because they weren’t afraid to hide their actions, and while Eddie was arrested thanks to some false allegations from a boy scout, Peter was brought into this simply for having received a letter from Eddie, so an arrest stemmed from simply admitting one was in love.
In addition, in this less-enlightened time, doctors would claim the individual simply has an “illness”, so thankfully, things have changed big-time since then.
As a drama, Against The Law is fine most of the time, with the two leads giving decent performances, but no-one on camera feels like they’re particularly pushing the boat out. Maybe, in Mays’ case, that’s because he’s done some superb work in Line of Duty, Born To Kill and Guerrilla.
However, this is all mixed in with pieces-to-camera from those who were convicted of homosexuality at the time. This does jar a bit, as you’re solely expecting drama. I can see why they were included, but I think they’d have best served as a subsequent separate programme, to round out the near-90 minutes running time.
Against The Law is broadcast tomorrow night at 9pm on BBC2 and is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on Setember 11th. After broadcast, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission, and click on the top image for the full-size version.
Director: Fergus O’Brien
Producer: Scott Bassett
Writer: Brian Fillis (based on the autobiography by Peter Wildeblood)
Music: Roger Goula Sarda
Peter Wildeblood: Daniel Mays
Eddie McNally: Richard Gadd
Lord Wolfenden: David Robb
Lord Edward Montagu: Mark Edel-Hunt
Defence Rawlinson: Daniel Betts
Iris: Claire Bond
John Reynolds: Matthew Canny
Michael Pitt-Rivers: Josh Collins
Superintendent Jones: Charlie Creed-Miles
Prosecutor Roberts: Richard Dillane
Governor Cockayne: James Gaddas
Doctor Landers: Mark Gatiss
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.