Matt Smith graces the cover of this week's Radio Times (click on the cover to access the interview and Saturday 'Pick of the Day" listing) to promote the long overdue screening of Kevin Elyot's adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's 1976 autobiography Christopher And His Kind.

The book covers the period between 1929 and 1939 and principally the years that Isherwood lived in Berlin. It was his exploration of gay culture, as the Weimar Republic gave way to the rise to power of Hitler in 1933, and his encounters with Gerald Hamilton and Jean Ross that formed the inspiration for a number of short stories and novellas including Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1935) Sally Bowles (1937), and a short novel called Goodbye to Berlin (1939) with all three brought together in a collection called The Berlin Stories in 1945.

These stories and novels were then developed into the play I Am a Camera (1951), filmed in 1955 by Henry Cornelius and both starring Julie Harris as Sally Bowles. They also inspired Kander and Ebb's Broadway musical Cabaret (1966) and Bob Fosse's 1972 film of the same name.

Filmed last May, the drama stars Smith as Isherwood, Toby Jones as Gerald Hamilton, Pip Carter as Wystan Auden, Douglas Booth as Heinz Neddermayer (Isherwood's first love), Imogen Poots as Jean Ross (the inspiration for Sally Bowles) and Lindsay Duncan as Kathleen Isherwood, Christopher's mother. It explores Isherwood's rejection of the class bound suffocation of English life and his wide-eyed, innocent introduction to the thriving gay life of pre-war Berlin.

It was directed by Geoffrey Sax (Doctor Who - The Movie, Tipping the Velvet) and written by acclaimed playwright Kevin Elyot (My Night With Reg). Produced by Celia Duval (Margot) for Mammoth Screen, with Michele Buck, Kevin Elyot and Damien Timmer as executive producers. With Eleanor Moran, BBC executive producer, through Piers Wenger, Head of Drama, BBC Wales.

Christopher And His Kind is scheduled for Saturday 19 March at 9.30pm on BBC Two.

BBC Press office interview with Matt Smith

Radio Times gallery

Thanks to Radio Times and BBC Two.

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8 Responses to “CHRISTOPHER AND HIS KIND / Radio Times Coverage”
  1. I seem to recall that Tom Baker wouldn't be seen smoking or drinking around kids whilst he was in the role.

    In 2011, we have Matt Smith pushing the envelope (very good for his career, I'm sure) playing gay.

    Oh, it's all so sad, and hardly anyone can see it.

  2. FRANK says:

    Sad that it's a straight actor playing gay or sad that young kids won't see it? Not quite sure what you meant there.

    I can understand the frustration that the role didn't go to a gay actor. But the system has been like this for YEARS! It will take an effort of monumental proportions to change it.

    Whether you call it an incestuous career move or not, and frankly it probably is with Piers Wenger and BBC Wales producing it, I prefer to judge what the film is saying about Isherwood and being gay.

    It's a good drama that, ironically, is about not sitting on the fence politically and in terms of your sexuality.

  3. Yes it is a shame a gay actor isn't playing the part (that's a whole other debate), but that's not what I meant by sad.

    I just think it speaks volumes about the media, and Doctor Who in 2011 particularly, that the lead in a kid's show is also appearing in something as adult as this. It's just not cricket, is it?

    But Moffat's Doctor Who is a bit sleazy and mucky, so maybe it's all a perfect fit.

  4. FRANK says:

    Hmm. I see your point but the part of the Doctor is an acting job just like any other these days.

    Tennant made 'Secret Smile', about a serial killer, 'Recovery', about a man physically and mentally damaged by a car accident. Both were very adult dramas featuring violence, bad language and nudity. 'Recovery' was brilliant but very challenging to watch. And he was also playing the Doctor at the same time these were made and transmitted.

    Personally, I don't have any problem with Matt making 'Christopher and his Kind' while he's also cast as the Doctor. Granted the subject matter and the role of Isherwood has got the media in a tizz but what else do you expect?

    I have more issues with Moffat's vision for 'Doctor Who' than worrying about the perception of the series because the lead actor happens to be playing in an adult drama at the same time.

    If you've seen the Comic Relief sketches then it's clear that Moffat has one trick and he's clearly worn it out. He has run out of ideas simply because he only ever had one idea in the first place. Series 6 really needs to prove that he has new ideas and better ones.

  5. We're in complete agreement on Moffat (sad - as a Press Gang devotee I had such high hopes...)

    Perhaps I'm not clear in my own mind about why Smith's appearance in the Isherwood piece bothers me so much. It's just not in the spirit of being the Doctor, somehow (Mr Pertwee would have something to say on that).

    But I'm not a fan of Smith's Junior Dr. Who/David Tennant impersonation either, so I'm not inclined to look favourably on him.

    A writer friend of mine, who's older than me, actually like's Smith. He wrote a fantastically perceptive piece for my blog about where Series 5 went wrong

    P.S. Please do one of your brilliant essays on The Happiness Patrol. I'll love you forever if you do :)

  6. FRANK says:

    I read that guest blog on the series over at Ka-os Theory some time ago. I agree with some of the points it raises. I don't have room to go into it all here but I do echo many of the observations about Amy for instance in many of my reviews and certainly most comprehensively in my book.

    I see Series 5 as one of transition. The next one is the real test. Many of the issues that your guest blogger raises were criticisms you could also apply to RTD's companion-centric revival of the series too. By the time Donna came on board I think he realised that a companion didn't need to be in love with the Doctor. And it worked so much better.

    Anyway, we shall see. I'll be reviewing the new episodes of course.

    'The Happiness Patrol' will inevitably get a review from me. I hope it lives up to expectation.

  7. Greg says:

    I saw Matt Smith's involvement in "Christopher and His Kind" as a nod to David Tennant's participation in the superior "Einstein and Eddington", where Tennant also played a gay historical figure. It felt like the new Dr Who team were trying to make sure we saw Matt Smith in the same light as his predecessor, with the same extracurricular capacity. I thought he did well, although there were moments where his portrayal of Isherwood bled into his take on the Doctor, but that might have been hard to avoid given that the role required him to rather paternalistically swoop in and "rescue" young boys. I found the production good and was taken back to my reading of "Goodbye to Berlin". The later scene where Heinz tells Isherwood that he has named his Son after him was especially touching. What did make me hoot with laughter was the script's vicious shafting of Auden, which turned him into some E.L. Wisty character.

  8. FRANK says:

    Hi, Greg

    Yes, I think you're spot on there. I saw it in the same light as Tennant's turn in 'Einstein and Eddington'.

    Yes, poor old Auden, left complaining about rectal fissures on a park bench.

    Overall, I thought Matt was excellent even if at times he wandered into his portrayal of the Doctor. And it all looked rather splendid too.

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