Through Flora I wanted to explore not only the terrible compromises the criminalisation of homosexuality forced into the lives of one in ten women if you include mothers and grandmothers alongside wives but also the roots of homophobia in buried shame and fear. It was icing on the cake to have two such incredibly versatile actors then bring Flora to life.
Several of your novels cross time and depict a family in different decades. Vanessa Redgrave, now 80, was actually a child in the war years.
Did you have to telescope time to facilitate the story you wanted to tell? Not really. I write my multi-stranded novels that way — one period or one character at a time — and the same was true here. Each episode was conceived as its own story arc with its own concerns and only then did I come to pick out and emphasise the echoes between them. Old Flora is a very different woman to her younger self. She has spent the best part of her lifetime pretending, policing her responses, guarding against letting her vulnerability or secret shame show through a formidable exterior self.
I knew I wanted to write about homophobia and at least one of its common causes and I feel strongly that homophobia is enabled, time and again, by a sense of shame hardwired in childhood into most LGBT people, a sense that they are somehow deserving of less respect or of worse treatment and a sense that they need to work harder than straight people at being perfect. Yet my sexuality was never acknowledged or discussed and the abiding sense of discomfort, embarrassment even, caused me to develop terrible eczema which lasted until the month I finally left home for university.
Adam is a wonderfully complex character. What are you telling us about some modern gay behaviour? I wanted to challenge gay viewers as much as straight ones and I designed episode two to be profoundly uncomfortable watching for anyone tempted to believe that equality under the law is the end of the story. Yes, there are hundreds of well-adjusted gay people out there, truly loved and supported by their families and with emotional lives that are integrated into their work lives and so on.
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Danny is mysteriously given the key to Alex's apartment, where he discovers Alex's dead body in a room dedicated to sado-masochism. He telephones the police, but remembering Alex's last words to him, he swallows a code-locked cylinder he finds in the battery compartment of Alex's laptop. The police tell Danny that Alex had lied to him: Danny lies and later passes the object he had swallowed.
Convinced that he is being followed, Danny hides the device he discovered. Scottie tells Danny about his history with MI6 30 years ago and shows him where he attempted suicide at the time. He refuses to believe them and is taken to a mansion belonging to Frances and her husband, where she informs him that Alistair, her son, was neither gay nor a virgin, but very experienced in sexual roleplay.
When Danny does not believe her, Frances tells him to stop making a fuss. The next morning, the housekeeper reveals that his real name was Alistair but he preferred the name Alex. Danny returns to London and is approached by an American who tells him to look after his health. He leaves behind a sweet containing a tablet and a business card which Danny rips up.
Danny is arrested, and admits to having experimented with auto-asphyxiation. While details are being kept under wraps, we do know that the show is expected to arrive this year and the BBC has invited ten drag queens to compete at the filming location in London.
But most importantly, RuPaul is reported to be sashaying our way across the pond, marking the first time an international version of the show has been hosted by the star. RuPaul said: So, we want to create something fresh that speaks to a new generation. Want up-to-the-minute entertainment news and features?
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