Man in an Orange Shirt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Man in an Orange Shirt
Man in an Orange Shirt.jpg
Written byPatrick Gale
Directed byMichael Samuels
Composer(s)Dan Jones
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes2
Production company(s)BBC
Original networkBBC One
Original release31 July 2017 (2017-07-31)

Man in an Orange Shirt is a two-part British television movie from the BBC. It was produced by Kudos Film and Television and premiered on 31 July 2017 at BBC One. The film drama tells three love stories from two generations of a family, in the 1940s and in 2017.

Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Morris, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen act in the lead roles, directed by Michael Samuels. The script and idea come from the British bestselling-author Patrick Gale, whose family history is the autobiographical core of the plot. The film won 2018 International Emmy Award for Best TV Movie or Miniseries.


Man in an Orange Shirt features two separate yet interwoven stories:[1] Part 1 tells of the obstacles that Western society is putting into the love relationship of the two veterans Michael and Thomas in the immediate post-war period. Part 2 describes the trials and tribulations of 21st century partnerships, using the example of Michael's grandson. The stories are linked by Flora, as Michael's grieving wife and Adam's grandmother, whose unrequited love for Michael and conservative education results in a hateful response to Adam's coming-out.

Part 1[edit]

In London today, a grandmother looks at an old photo of her deceased husband and remembers the beginning of their relationship in the turmoil of World War II. In the 1940s, young Flora Talbot is a London teacher whose fiancé, Michael Berryman, is captain in the British Army, stationed in Italy. During a mission, Michael is reunited with an old schoolmate, Captain Thomas March, who is badly wounded in the attack. Michael is close as Thomas convalesces, and before Thomas returns to England, the men share a kiss. Thomas makes Michael promise to seek him out after the war in London. Immediately upon his return, Michael visits Thomas before he even tells Flora he is back. Michael and Thomas spend a perfect weekend away from the rest of the world in the old manor cottage once owned by Michael's deceased parents. When their brief time together comes to an end, Michael tells a very upset Thomas of his intent to marry Flora. Thomas eventually agrees to be Michael's best man, and presents the couple with a painting of the cottage as a wedding gift.

Shortly before the birth of their son, Robert James, Flora finds a box of old love letters from Thomas in her husband's desk drawer. In a mixture of anger and fear over sexual laws, she burns the letters and confronts Michael, who is devastated by the loss of the letters. Flora begins birth contractions, and the midwife sends Michael out of the house. He wanders through the city and is tempted to cruise for sex in a public toilet. Instead, he takes flight, buys flowers and returns to Flora. After the birth of their child, the Berrymans never speak a word about the events again. Meanwhile, Thomas is arrested for cottaging, is sentenced to a full year in prison for gross indecency. Michael visits Thomas in prison, but Thomas refuses any further visits. Michael visits Thomas's mother, who shows him a backroom of his many paintings. She notes an unfinished painting of a man in an orange shirt, but even with the face unpainted, she recognizes Michael as the subject. Knowing the men's connection, she suggests that Michael could move with Thomas to a family house in France. Michael writes a final letter to Thomas in which he reveals all his feelings, but decides not to mail it. Thomas is released from prison, but leaves with his friends, as Michael looks on. A few years later, Thomas meets briefly with Michael in the presence of Flora and young son Robert, but their mutual feelings remain unspoken.

Part 2[edit]

Sixty years later in 2017, widowed, elderly Flora's only grandchild, Adam, is a veterinarian. He is constantly looking for new male casual sex partners using mobile app. After Flora bequeaths Adam his grandfather's old cottage, he hires architect Steve, who lives in an open relationship with the older Caspar. Despite Adam's fear of intimacy, he embarks on a slow love affair with Steve, who eventually tells Caspar he is leaving him for Adam. As Flora learns about the relationship and thus Adam's sexual orientation, the fear and rage that she had silenced against her husband breaks out.

When Adam and Steve find the cottage painting by Thomas during the cleanup, Flora reacts with mock ignorance, though it is inscribed to her and Michael with a wish that it someday hang in their home. In the picture frame, however, art connoisseur Caspar discovers another, hidden painting of Michael standing in the door of the cottage. This painting is the eponymous "Man in an Orange Shirt", a finished version of the study Michael saw at Thomas's mother's house. At the sight of the hidden painting, Flora collapses, but finally tells Adam the whole story. She gives him a small box with some old photos and the never-sent letter from Michael to Thomas, which she had found only after Michael's death. Adam finally shows Steve the old lost letter which sought a long-term relationship, and the two reconcile.


The narrative is based in part on the family history of British bestselling-author Patrick Gale, who hereby celebrated his screenplay debut. He wrote the story over a six-year period. Like Flora Berryman, Gale's mother had found a stack of love letters from a male friend in her husband's desk shortly after the end of World War II. She also destroyed the letters, for fear that he might be arrested, and out of disgust and ignorance, as she had learned to equate homosexuality with paedophilia.

The filming location was, among others, the London Charterhouse, where also Downton Abbey, Agatha Christie's Poirot, Tulip Fever, Miss Austen Regrets, and since 2017 Taboo were filmed.

The drama was broadcast as the flagship of the BBC Gay Britannia season, a series of programs in 2017 celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act.[2] The 1967 parliamentary law decriminalized homosexuality in England and Wales. Until then, sexual relations between two men had them imprisoned for up to ten years (by comparison, the maximum penalty for rape was five years).

On August 13, 2017, TVNZ broadcast both parts as a coherent feature film.[3] The US network PBS broadcast the two-piece in June 2018[2] as part of their anthology series Masterpiece.[4]



Supporting (part 1)[edit]

Supporting (part 2)[edit]

  • Julian Sands: Caspar Nicholson
  • Angel Coulby: Claudie
  • Amanda Rawnsley: Vet receptionist
  • Drew Edwards: Sous chef
  • Eddie Arnold: David
  • Joanna David: Jennifer
  • Eileen Page: Geraldine
  • Hal Scardino: Dwight
  • Phil Dunster: Bruno
  • Gay Hamilton: Agnes
  • Flaminia Cinque: Rita
  • Mark Sears: Muscled man
  • Warren Sollars: Grufff Bear
  • Babajide Fado: Lorry driver


Man in an Orange Shirt received positive reviews from critics and holds an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[5]

The film won a 2018 International Emmy Award for Best TV Movie or Miniseries.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Boedeker, Hal (14 June 2018). "Man in an Orange Shirt examines gay life". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b Tartaglione, Nancy (31 July 2017). "Masterpiece Boards Vanessa Redgrave-Starrer Man In An Orange Shirt". Deadline Hollywood News. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Man in an Orange Shirt, in the TVNZ-Online-Mediathek". 2017.
  4. ^ "Acclaimed Drama Man in an Orange Shirt Will Premiere on Masterpiece Next Spring". 31 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Man in an Orange Shirt". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  6. ^ Clarke, Stewart (27 September 2018). "International Emmy Award Nominations Unveiled". Variety. Retrieved 29 September 2018.

External links[edit]