Great LezBritain: The Top 10 TV Moments That Built the British Lesbian


This new column, “Great LezBritian,” will be a fortnightly stroll through the very best of British lesbo-centric entertainment and culture. Plus there will be some jolly good interviews with the top ladies who are waving the flag for gay UK.

“Great LezBritain” authors Sarah, a Londoner, and Lee, a Glaswegian, met in a gay discotheque one bleak mid winter, eight years ago and have been shacked up together ever since. When not watching Tipping The Velvet, they find time to write, run a PR company, DJ at their own club nights and love a bit of jam on toast.

There are moments throughout a young lesbian-in-waiting’s life when the television set shines a light directly into her dykey heart and chips away yet another little piece of the closet.  And it keeps chipping away until one day a fully emerged lesbian gets up off the sofa, struts into the local gay bar, orders a pint and gets ready to meet her very own Kitty Butler.

Here are a few of the signpost TV moments that we met along our own paths to dykehood living in the UK.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, 1990 BBC

Sarah: On a Sunday night in 1990, between bath time and bedtime, most 11-year old girls were listening to their New Kids On the Block tapes. I was watching Jeanette Winterson’s semi-autobiographical story about a young girl trying to come out in a religious village in the 1980s (and being thankful that in my home we had bananas and apples too, as well as a mum that didn’t hang about with any priests). 

While the program was mildly frightening viewing for any little lez, the fact that there was lady love on the BBC certainly lit the first gay light bulbs in mine and many other young heads.

Brookside, 1993 Channel 4

Lee: I always knew there was something about Beth Jordache (played by Anna Friel) that I liked. A lot. With her big jumpers, unkempt barnet and penchant for kissing girls, this was the best soap opera character of my young life.

The first kiss between Beth and Margaret (played by Nicola Stephenson) was little more than a peck on the lips but my God, it was the best peck on the lips I’d ever seen. (It was also the first lesbian kiss on a prime-time UK television series.) I then had to wait a painful four days to see the Sunday repeat and was devastated to discover that Channel 4 had cut it out. To all those protesters who caused that cut, you made a 13-year old girl cry that night I hope it made you feel big.

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