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Gay Times April 11 - Issue 391

Jonathan Harvey - Corrie Queens and Beautiful Things

It can be worrying how showbusiness dictates society’s attitudes. But sometimes it’s for the better; never before has the UK stage, radio, TV or cinema screen been as packed with talented, creative gay role models. But it’s not just singers and actors making the change. Often, the greatest role models of the pop culture sphere get overlooked - because they’re behind the scenes. Meet Jonathan Harvey.

You might not recognise him but you’ll doubtless recognise his wide-ranging body of work. And we’ll hedge a bet that somewhere down the line, that body of work has had a profound impact on your queer identity, perhaps without you even realising it.
With the 90s play (and later, the 90s film) Beautiful Thing he wrote the original and best gays-on-a-council estate romance, long before Shameless or countless porn films recycled the motif. More recently he created Beautiful People, the much loved BBC2 comedy about a pair of effeminate, pop music obsessed tweenagers - bravely broaching the oft ignored truth that kids can be gay.
But perhaps best of all, he’s the brains behind sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme, a key member of the queer TV canon. The long gone but never forgotten cult comedy starred Kathy Burke and James Dreyfuss as codependent frenemies Tom and Linda – a kind of warped, cockney Will & Grace. The show bowed out in 2001, but if anyone can shed light on his or her whereabouts today, it’s Jonathan.
“Oh god I would dread to think!” he chuckles affectionately in his broad Northern accent. “I’m sure Linda would be face down in a wheelie bin somewhere. And Tom: an impoverished twat living in a bed-sit, still claiming to be an actor though he’s probably not worked since Crossroads.”
If you’re a devotee of the show, these tidbits will doubtless be music to your ears. But don’t get too excited. Inevitably, when asked if he misses the show, Jonathan tells me he doesn’t.
“I found it very hard. The relentlessness of putting the show on every week and the effort involved in that was really tough. The pressure was very intense. I was very young when I wrote it and there’s certainly a bit of naivety to it - naive is probably the wrong word. It’s quite fresh when I watch it today. It does seem a very long time ago now.”

The whole article features in the latest issue of GT which is out 26 Jan. You can buy the App over here

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