The 90-minute film was produced by Thames Television for the British Television channel ITV. Crisp is depicted from youth to middle age. For his performance, Hurt won the BAFTA for Best Actor in 1976 and the production also won the 1976 Prix Italia. In 1976 it was shown on US television channel WOR-TV and later PBS when Thames Television and WOR-TV exchanged programming for one week.
In 2000 it was placed fourth in a poll by industry professionals to find the BFI TV 100 of the 20th century, and was the highest ITV production on the list. The film was released on DVD in 2005. In 2009, Hurt reprised the role of Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York, which covered the latter years of Crisp's life in New York.