An Englishman in New York (ITV1)

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.

7 thoughts on “An Englishman in New York (ITV1)

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  1. Oddly enough..when I was working at the UN in New York in the 90s I called Quentin Crisp up one day ( being at the UN allows access to all kinds of info) and met him for an interview and lunch. He was living in a really dreary flat in the East Village and was a bit reticent until I said I was paying for lunch. I found him quite charming and I even had the restaurant take a picture of us…I should post in on my blog with credit to you for reminding me about it.

    John Hurt is never less than excellent in anything he does. If you have never seen The Dresser with him and Albert Finney you should…absolutely brilliant!

  2. Fascinating programme, great drama, stunning performance from John Hurt – and interesting to see JH, as Quentin Crisp, talking about The Naked Civil Servant in which, of course, John Hurt played Quentin Crisp. I was hoping he’d say “and John Hurt was brilliant”! I saw Quentin Crisp’s shows a couple of times and he was fascinating (and JH was absolutely indistinguishable from the real thing!)
    As for the criticism that he didn’t support gay rights – well, he did enough just by drawing the whole issue to publie attention, becoming one of the “stately homos of England” and pointing out to everyone that – guess what! – not all gay people are the same!

  3. MrsBN – was v.good. I really recommend it on ITV iplayer or whatever it’s called. Very good indeed.

    Vern – wow! I didn’t know you’d worked at the UN or that you’d met him. Am impressed! Your description of where he lives sounds similar to how it was portrayed in the film. A fascinating character. Will look out for The Dresser as I don’t think I’ve seen it yet.

    Daphne – glad you also enjoyed it. And yeh, I think in his own way he did move things forward in terms of making people talk about it and bringing it out of the closet. Also, too many gays are ‘clone droney’ wanting to be all the same and he represents individuality and self-expression which should be celebrated.

  4. Hello there – ‘The Dresser’ is a great film and very, very recommended. However it isn’t John Hurt who co-stars with Finney; it’s Tom Courtney, another great English actor. An easy mistake to make!

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