In his screenwriting debut, bestselling British novelist Patrick Gale tells two love stories, 60 years apart – stories linked by family and a painting, with a secret that echoes down the generations.
Featuring a cast including the Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave, Man In An Orange Shirt charts the challenges and huge changes to gay lives from the Second World War to the present day.
It is 1944, and in the chaos of war British Army Captain Michael Berryman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) meets the artist Thomas March (James McArdle) in Southern Italy. Despite the fact he has a young fiancé Flora (Joanna Vanderham) waiting for him back at home, straight-laced Michael finds himself falling for Thomas’s bohemian charms.
When the war ends they steal some time away at Michael’s secluded cottage, where they briefly experience life as a couple and Thomas paints Michael’s portrait, Man In An Orange Shirt. Against Thomas’s protestations, Michael then returns to the very different life in London he left before the war – back to Flora, marriage, and their plans to start a family. Thomas returns to the relative freedom of Soho where, at great personal risk, he can live the life of a gay man.
Man In An Orange Shirt, BBC2,Monday, 9pm