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.