Tom Allen to host vital new BBC show marking 10th anniversary of same-sex marriage

On the left, comedian Tom Allen. On the right, Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, the first gay couple to wed in the UK.

British comedian Tom Allen will lead a one-off BBC documentary exploring the fight to legalise gay marriage in the UK.

The same-sex marriage act – Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – was passed by the British government in July 2013, meaning same-sex marriage has been legal in England and Wales for a decade. The first marriages took place in March 2014.

Scotland followed suit in December 2014, though it took until 2020 for LGBTQ+ marriages to be recognised in Northern Ireland.

The law marked the end of a long and gruelling battle for queer people’s right to marry, fought tirelessly by LGBTQ+ activists across the country. Ten years on, and a record eight in 10 British people now support same-sex marriages.

In a new documentary marking and celebrating the decade milestone, queer comedian Tom Allen will tell the extraordinary story behind the fight for marriage equality.

Allen, 40, will head up the BBC documentary, in which he’ll speak with the LGBTQ+ activists who made the marriage breakthrough possible.

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Tom Allen performing a gig. (Carla Speight/Getty)
Tom Allen performing a gig. (Carla Speight/Getty)

Running with the working title My Big Gay Wedding, the BBC film will also see Allen and some of his celebrity friends come together to arrange a big blow-out wedding for one very lucky gay couple.

“The fact that same sex couples couldn’t get married here just 10 years ago means we should never be complacent about the progress we’ve made,” Allen said, reflecting on his part in the documentary and the anniversary of the landmark legislation.

“It’s only right to celebrate it thoroughly. I’m looking forward to making this joyous celebration of love and gay marriage, or garriage as I like to call it.”

The film will also see Allen discuss his own experience of growing up as gay man. In an interview with PinkNews earlier this year, he opened up about what it was like to be a young, queer person during the age of Section 28

Stonewall protestors celebrate gay marriage announcement.
The moment same-sex marriage law was passed in the UK in 2013. (Getty/Kristian Buus)

In place from 1988 to 2003, Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28 banned local councils and schools from “promoting homosexuality”, leaving a generation of LGBTQ+ youth without a support network, and with heavy feelings of shame.

“There was no mention of being gay or queer at school, it was very much used as a slur and it was bandied around unchecked as a bad thing,” Allen told PinkNews.

“There was no education, no one to turn to. There was no anti-bullying campaign that might counter any homophobic bullying and there was no LGBT History Month or Pride celebration.”

While no release date has been released for My Big Gay Wedding, the BBC is evidently already thrilled about it. 

Speaking about the film, the broadcaster’s head of religion and ethics Daisy Scalchi praised Tom Allen as the “perfect person” to guide the featured to-be-wed couple “towards their dream day”.

“I am so excited about this film. To be celebrating this momentous anniversary with a couple at such an important time in their lives is a privilege,” Scalchi added.

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