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Television: Roger Lewis ​reviews Man In an Orange Shirt, Against the Law, Top of the Lake and China Girl

Arts | By Roger Lewis


Had Michelangelo been a heterosexual, the Sistine Chapel would have been done in two coats of magnolia with a roller. As was made clear in the plethora of programmes commemorating the decriminalising of homosexuality, were it not for gay people, there’d simply be no art or culture: Britten, Rattigan, Coward, Gielgud, Charles Hawtrey, Tennessee and Kenneth Williams. Now that you can get your end away without a prison sentence attached, however, has a certain imaginative tension been lost? Patrick Gale’s wishy-washy Man in an Orange Shirt was full of what Quentin Crisp called ‘moonlit grunts’, seductive lines such as ‘I can’t button my flies single-handed’, and Frances de la Tour trying to be helpful by telling her son’s boyfriend, ‘I have a very small house in France’, but the one I felt sorry for was Vanessa Redgrave as the long-suffering wife. Is there anyone better able to convey pain, disappointment...


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