Back in 1974, BBC Two aired the first televised kiss between two women in the U.K. Now, according to Mashable, that iconic lesbian kiss can be viewed by the public for the first time in 40 years. The kiss occurred in a half-hour TV play called Girl, which has been re-released by the BBC Store as part of its Prejudice And Pride collection, an archive that highlights the BBC’s LGBT characters throughout the years. The collection has been released in conjunction with London Pride.
Girl is about Jackie (Alison Steadman), a young army recruit who has to leave the service after getting pregnant. She also carries out an illicit affair with her superior Chrissie (Myra Frances). So the kiss wasn’t just some stunt: It’s a significant moment between two women in a romantic and sexual relationship, which was quite explicit for 1974. In addition to the kiss, the play shows the women in bed together in an intimate flashback of the pair sharing a post-coital cigarette. At one point, they also sing along and dance to “This Girl’s In Love” by lesbian icon Dusty Springfield.
Girl is a frank love story about two women, which at the time was a revolutionary premise in and of itself. According to the British Film Institute (BFI), Girl was “very controversial” when it first aired in 1974. The BFI also notes: “The BBC’s anxiety was evident in the decision to precede its transmission with a special announcement by the controller of BBC Two.” What did that special announcement say? “Warning: Lesbians Lie Ahead”? Hey, here we are in 2016, and movies about women who love women still have trouble breaking into the mainstream and getting the praise they’re owed. Just ask Carol.
Steadman is also known for playing Mrs. Bennett in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride And Prejudice. In a statement about Girl, she said: “The director, Peter Gill, was great because he didn’t fuss about the fact they were two women or that they had to kiss; he said it was just a love story.” Her mother was also supportive of her taking such a controversial role: “I was worried about my parents watching it, only because I thought my mum would be a bit embarrassed by comments from neighbours, but they took it well. My mum said she thought it was great and was very moved by it.” After Girl, the next lesbian kiss to air on British TV did not happen until 1994, when Anna Friel and Nicola Stephenson kissed on the soap Brookside.
BBC Store is, unfortunately, only available to users in the U.K. due to rights agreements.