Tories are a threat to future of queer TV, says Big Boys’ Jack Rooke: ‘We have to be ready to fight’

Jack Rooke and Dylan Llewllyn

Big Boys creator Jack Rooke has warned queer TV has a “fight on its hands” against the Tories.

Big Boys, Rooke’s semi-autobiographical comedy about a working class gay man navigating university, was a breakout hit for Channel 4.

It received critical acclaim, and saw Rooke take home Best Drama at the PinkNews Awards 2022 (a joint win with Adam Kay, for This Is Going To Hurt).

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Rooke discussed the government’s mooted privatisation of Channel 4 and how it could impact the future of queer TV (a sale of the broadcaster was announced by then-culture secretary Nadine Dorries, but it’s honestly anyone’s guess as to what will happen under the next prime minister).

Alongside Big Boys, Channel 4 has recently invested in queer shows including It’s A Sin and We Are Lady Parts.

“I feel like the future is as bright as long as people are willing to take the risks,” Rooke said.

“The issue is the government. The issue is this bunch of Tories we currently have, who do not want Channel 4 to remain in the public’s hands.”

Rooke is a strong backer of the We Own It campaign, which describes itself as “a voice for everyone who wants UK public services to be run for people, not profit”.

“I just think queer people have got to get ready to fight again for Channel Four and even the BBC,” he added.

“Public broadcasting is a threat when you have the people in the government deciding mad ideological crap.”

Co-winners Jack Rooke (L) and Adam Kay (L) at PinkNews Awards 2022. (PinkNews)

Co-winners Jack Rooke (L) and Adam Kay (L) at PinkNews Awards 2022. (PinkNews)

The first season of Big Boys followed a fictionalised version of Jack (played by Dylan Llewellyn) and explored themes of identity, grief, friendship, loneliness and taking the first steps of adulthood. 

Channel 4 has confirmed a second season, which Rooke is ready to dive into. 

“The character of Jack has finally properly come out to everyone,” Rooke said, “I think once you actually have that experience, you are let loose to go and finally experiment. 

“So I think it’s gonna be even bigger and sillier. And it’s also just me telling embarrassing stories about my own mad uni tales, drinking poppers and fancying men who are really unattainable, which hasn’t changed to this day.”

Aas for Rookes’ hopes for queer TV in 2023, his main dream is to see more representation of just your average gay. 
He wants to see more characters who aren’t always “fabulous and amazing” but also “quiet, shy and anxious”.

“It’s quite nice to see a gay character who is sometimes really boring, and really lame,” he said.

Co-winner Adam Kay shared a similar sentiment, telling PinkNews that he was proud to bring a “normal, gay, dysfunctional couple” to TV in This is Going To Hurt.