Band of Gold, 1996 ITV – Series 2
Lee: This was my mum’s and my favorite program, and it revolved around the lives of a group of women who lived and worked in the red light district. We enjoyed series one for its "dramatic gritty storylines" and "excellent acting" from women like Cathy Tyson, Geraldine James and a young Samantha Morton.
Barbara Dickson, Geraldine James, Ruth Gemmell
and Cathy Tyson in Band of Gold
Then Lena Headey appeared in series two as a dominatrix lesbian dressed in leather, and my mum and I began watching two entirely different shows. My mum continued to comment on the "brilliant dialogue," while I wanted nothing else to be on the screen but Lena with a whip in her hand.
The Investigator, 1997 ITV
Lee: This was by far the biggest shining light moment for me before I came out. Randomly watching ITV one night, I came across a program that, at first, looked quite dull except for the fact that Helen Baxendale was in it and wearing an army uniform. So I thought, "Hello? Let’s see this through."
The show turned out to be the dramatization of a real story about Sergeant Caroline Meagher, whose job in the army in the 1980s was to root out the lesbians. Along the way she discovers that she herself is a big old gay — what are the chances of that?
I was so gripped by this TV show that by the end, I was not only aware that Helen Baxendale looked super hot in khaki, but I was finally sure that, like Sergeant Meagher, I would definitely have been kicked out of the army.
Coming Out Night — Ellen, "The Puppy Episode," 1998 Channel 4
Sarah: I am cheating slightly here because Ellen DeGeneres is obviously an American export. However in 1998, Channel 4 showed huge les-pect and held a "Coming Out" night in celebration of the airing of "The Puppy Episode." Ellen, her then-girlfriend Anne Heche and even Betty DeGeneres, drank champagne and talked about what the episode meant to them and this was followed by C4’s own Guide To Coming Out.
Watching until the small hours of the morning on my rickety old black and white TV, I remember Ellen said she felt moved by the fuss made by Channel 4 when her own network in the U.S. didn’t even send flowers. It was a moment I felt truly proud to be British.