Airdate: An Englishman in New York

John Hurt returns to play gay activist Quentin Crisp as he did in 1975 in The Naked Civil Servant.

This will be one to watch -John Hurt returns to play gay activist Quentin Crisp as he did in 1975 in The Naked Civil Servant.

This ITV production picks up where that left off, following Crisp to New York and through to his death in 1999 at the age of 90.

The telemovie won a GLAAD Media Award GLAAD Media Award and also features Cynthia Nixon and Swoosie Kurtz.

The 1975 television series The Naked Civil Servant transformed the life of its creator – fifty-something part-time life model and novelist Quentin Crisp.

The story about his life as a homosexual growing up in wartime Britain made Quentin a household name. However, having finally gained the celebrity he craved, he is shunned. So he accepts an invitation to speak in New York.

With his flamboyant style, rapier sharp wit, and honest, but seemingly perverse world view he’s an instant hit, and New York proves to be Quentin’s natural home. Having secured an agent, Connie Clausen, Quentin is granted Resident Alien status for his ‘unique qualities’, and gets a regular stream of engagements performing his one man show, How to Be Happy.

Then he meets Philip Steele, editor of The Village Voice, for which Quentin writes regular movie reviews. Steadily the two form a warm friendship.

By now it’s the 1980s, and with the AIDS epidemic hitting the gay community hard, Quentin’s remark that AIDS is ‘a fad’, makes him an outcast. Philip – also a gay man – begs Quentin to apologize, but when he won’t, they part ways.

As Quentin’s life spirals downward he meets two people who will change its course: Patrick Angus, a young struggling gay artist, who eventually dies of AIDS, but not before Quentin helps to make his art successful; and performer and entertainer Penny Arcade, who introduces Quentin to a whole new generation by making him part of her show.

Once again Quentin is flooded with requests to openings and launches, but friendly with Philip once again, he is persuaded to throw them away. But he does accept an invitation to speak in the UK, and because of his age, both Penny and Philip fear he will never make it back to New York.

It airs 8:30pm Sunday March 28 on ABC1.

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