BBC orders historic gay drama from author Patrick Gale

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The BBC has commissioned a two-part historic drama based on gay life.

Man In An Orange Shirt, which will air on BBC One, is comprised of two separate story strands exploring gay life – one set in the 1940s and 1950s, and one set in modern day.

Best-selling ‘Notes from an Exhibition’ novelist Patrick Gale will pen the drama, which tells “two gay love stories, sixty years apart – stories linked by family, and by a painting that holds a secret that echoes down the generations”.

The out author said: “Man In An Orange Shirt is the most exciting screen project I’ve worked on to date: an original drama exploring strands of gay male experience since the 1940s.

“It has been such a privilege to be given such an open brief and then allowed to run with it.

“I don’t want to give too much away but after much experimenting, we’ve ended up with two hour long films, one set in the 1940s and 50s one set in the violently contrasted present, one depicting a love story made impossible by pressures from society, one a love story nearly derailed by the long-term fall-out from the 1940s story.

“People who know my novels will be unsurprised to hear that that stories give equal focus to wives and mothers and are very much about tensions between family bonds, the need to be good and the urge to seize happiness.

“I hope they’ll appeal equally to straight and gay viewers but also that they’ll leave either side feeling challenged about things they take for granted.”

Diederick Santer, Executive Producer for Kudos, said: “I’m so proud to be sharing an original work from Patrick Gale with the BBC One audience.

“Man In An Orange Shirt is a treat – both epic and intimate, and as touching and entertaining as it is thought-provoking.”

Lucy Richer, Acting Controller of Drama Commissioning and BBC Executive Producer added: “Patrick is an outstanding and best-selling novelist whose stories connect with readers worldwide.

“Distinctive, original voices are at the heart of BBC Drama and we are thrilled to be making his first original television drama for BBC One.

“Man In An Orange Shirt has all the hallmarks of a Patrick Gale novel: captivating stories with unforgettable characters who will strike a chord with us all.”

It’s bumper season at the BBC for gay novelists called Patrick; author Patrick Ness is currently working on Doctor Who spin-off ‘Class’, which will have a gay lead character.