21st December 2018
While talking renaissance art in a war zone was actually a sublime experience, the next gig, a two-hour Larry Grayson biography, was by no means ridiculous by comparison. On hearing that this was in preparation I called the Producer and begged. Only I could make this film - aged twelve I saw our Larry on stage in Paignton, on the bill with Leslie Crowther. When Lal for some legitimate reason took a hammer and broke a plate that for some legitimate reason Leslie had slipped down his trousers, I was transfixed; I turned to my mother and said "that's show business, and I'm going to be in it." Years later I worked with Larry and told him how I'd been enthralled in the stalls. He claimed to remember me. Bless.
During the Boy George film we’d discussed the 70s tv gay icons hiding in plain sight, peeping out between 625 lines to the hesitant and the enthusiast, like George, whispering "come on in, the water’s warm." Larry led the field, or he did after editor Nick Webb and I had spent hours delirious with laughter at his ludicrous scripts and general demeanor. Like Tommy Cooper, he could just sigh and the audience were convulsed.
But forty years later, after Stonewalls and Rainbows and gay marriage, it was still hard to get anyone to appear on an ITV show and talk about Larry and sexuality. Only his neighbour and friend Bunny, a darling man who wept at his loss, felt able to be out and proud, and to drag Larry into the light with him.