On This Gay Day: 25 years ago ‘Beautiful Thing’ was released

Beautiful Thing

In 1996 the film ‘Beautiful Thing’ was released

Jonathan Harvey’s play Beautiful Thing tells the story of London teenager Jamie who is infatuated with his classmate Ste. Ste lives with his drug taking brother and alcoholic father. When he is badly beaten by his father, Jamie’s Mum insists he stay at their flat. There’s no extra bed, and he has to share with his mate.

Set on a working class council estate in Thamesmead, this coming of age story was ground breaking when it was first performed in 1993. In 1995 it was turned into a film, initially it was planned to be a TV movie, but it ended up being released on the big screen and became a massive hit.

Since the film came out 25 years ago the cast, director and writer have gone on to do some impressive things.

Jonathan Harvey – Writer
Jonathan Harvey would go on to create heaps of television programs including the cult comedy Gimme Gimme Gimme and the comedy series Beautiful People, which is inspired by the life of fashion commentator Simon Doonan. He’s also multiple plays and books, and is a writer on the long running British TV institution Coronation Street.

In the realm of musicals Harvey wrote the book for Dusty – The Musical and collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys on their two musical projects Closer to Heaven and Muzik. 

Hettie Macdonald – Director
The film was directed by Hettie Macdonald, who has also directed some of the most popular episodes of TV show Doctor Who and directed episodes of Normal People, Wallander, Law and Order UK, Casualty and Hit & Miss. Macdonald has also directed theatre in the UK.

Beautiful Thing

Scott Neal – Ste
Prior to shooting Beautiful Thing actor Scott Neal, who portrays Ste in the film, had appeared in episodes of London’s Burning, Prime Suspect and The Bill.

He actually played two completely different characters in The Bill. They must have really liked him because the year after Beautiful Thing was released he signed on as a member of their permanent cast – third time’s a charm. Neal played PC Luke Ashton for two years. In 2002 he returned to the show for another stint, but this time round his character got a major plot line after it was revealed that PC Ashton was gay.

Since leaving The Bill in 2003 he’s popped up on soap opera Emmerdale Hollyoaks and Eastenders.

Linda Henry – Sandra
Linda Henry who played Jamie’s Mum Sandra has also made he mark on British TV  playing  Yvonne Atkins in the long running series Bad Girls and since 2006 she’s played Shirley Carter on Eastenders.

Ben Daniels  – Tony
One of the most famous faces in the cast is Ben Daniels who played Linda’s hippie boyfriend Tony. Daniels appeared in three season of Cutting It, and can also been seen in The Virgin Queen, The State Within.

He played Adam Galloway in House of Cards, appeared in four seasons of Law & Order UK, received wide acclaim for his role as Father Marcus Keane in The Exorcist and played Anthony Armstrong-Jones – Earl of Snowdon in The Crown. Next on his schedule is playing Ned Weeks in an upcoming West End production of The Normal Heart. 

Since 1993 Daniels has been in a relationship with fellow actor Ian Gelder, who is instantly recognisable as Kevan Lannister from Game of Thrones. 

Tameka Empson – Leah
Tameka Empson, who played Mama Cass obsessed neighbour Leah in the film has also had a great career, she’s part of the comedy trio 3 Non Blondes and appeared in Jonathan Harvey’s series Beautiful Thing as a hairdresser named Tameka, and also played her relative Johoyo. In 2009 she joined the cast of Eastenders where she’s being playing Kim Fox.

Glen Berry – Jamie
Prior to Beautiful Thing Berry had appeared in episodes of Between the Lines, Casualty and Grange Hill. After the film came out he appeared in London’s Burning, The Bill, Trust and Midsomer Murders. He had an ongoing role in the series London Bridge and small parts in the Australian mini-series My Brother Tom and the film From Hell. He retired from acting in 2003.

OIP Staff

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