Saturday , 20 October 2018

Boy Meets Girl – A trans sitcom is born

Rebecca Root as Judy in Boy Meets Girl
Rebecca Root as Judy in Boy Meets Girl

With the very recent and exciting news that the upcoming six part sitcom ‘Boy Meets Girl’, commissioned by BBC 2, went officially into full production this week (broadcast date to be announced later in 2015), KaleidoScot was keen to highlight this rather historic television production and the implications it may have on both British sitcoms, perhaps even across the media as whole, and more importantly the impact that it may have on the Transgender Community across the UK.

You may ask why does this sitcom matter?

Three Reasons:
1) One of its lead characters is a transwoman – played by a transwoman, namely Rebecca Root.

2) It has the potential to cause a huge cultural shift in how the media across Britain both portrays and casts transgender people.

3) It has had a long and rather intriguing pro-active journey to get to the stage of being made into a series.

The latter of these points will be the main focus of this article, and mostly because at this stage, it is the one point that can fairly be commented upon, it is also a story that I feel deserves to be told in its own right.  

It all began back in January 2012 at an event called ‘Trans Camp’ that brought together groups from the trans community and the media world as a means to bridge the issues that prevent accurate depiction of transgender people with the press, television, radio and digital media.

‘Trans Camp’ was organised by the All About Trans Project – a non-profit initiative operated by On Road Media – and its main purpose is to promote more realistic and empowering representations of transgender people throughout every media outlet, by mostly bringing these often disparate parties together in friendly, safe and sociable meetings that have been called Media Interactions, so that media types can get to know trans people simply by chatting with and getting to know them.

Transgender journalist and presenter Paris Lees was involved in various parts of the setting up of this scheme said that Paris Lees wrote in a column in The Guardian that “’Boy Meets Girl’ didn’t come about by chance.The writing competition that spawned ‘Boy Meets Girl’, came about after we met BBC comedy bigwig Ian Critchley. The aim was to find a script that didn’t ridicule trans people. We wanted to watch something where trans people were in on the joke, and not just there as the punchline”.

The embryonic seed of ‘Boy Meets Girl’ started to take form at that gathering, along with a number of other proposals across the spectrum of the media. That proposal was to set-up a competition for writers to come-up with a sitcom that had central characters and themes that fully explored the lives and experiences of transgender people. A committee of experts was then organised to run and judge this competition and thus the Trans Comedy Award was created and then launched in late 2012.

By the close of the deadline in February 2013 around 320 scripts were entered into it, a number of weeks after that, the two winners were announced, Tom Glover’s script ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and Elliot Kerrigan’s script called ‘Love’. Soon after castings and readings for both scripts took place and ultimately, Kerrigan’s script won out, and was renamed ‘Boy Meets Girl’ and was chosen to be filmed as a pilot episode. It’s cast includes the afore mentioned Rebecca Root, and Harry Hepple, who are the show’s romantic leads and the supporting cast is filled out with Denise Welch, Janine Duvitski (both formerly cast in Benidorm), Nigel Betts (Emmerdale), Lizzie Roper (Hollyoaks), and Jonny Dixon (Coronation Street, and the show is executive produced by Tiger Aspect Production’s Sophie Clarke-Jervoise.

The pilot was shot in February 2014 and little over a month later the cut was finished and deemed ready for viewings at the Salford Comedy Festival as part of the BBC’s Sitcom Showcase before an audience of over 200 people, a fair portion of which were television insiders and it received a very positive reaction and within months was more or less commissioned for a full six part series and also acquired two additional writers Simon Carlyle and Andrew Mettam, which of course is shooting the subsequent five episodes and re-shooting a few segments of the pilot episode (- that is fairly common thing to happen for many a new television series).

What happens between now and after it is broadcast is still just about anyone’s guess, but the signs so far, seem really rather good, an original idea that has been worked extensively for the best part of three years, smart casting choices (- does the American series TransParent have a transgender lead actor? Nope!).

Let us all hope and wish that this sitcom gives its contemporaries a kick-up the bum and a massive boost for both trans characterisations on television and also the equalities movement for all transgender people.

So, basically, the production cast and crew for ‘Boy Meets Girl’, you are under no pressure whatsoever (cough).

About Cate Lauder

Cate Lauder
A graduate of Bournemouth University’s Scriptwriting for Film and Television course, a produced writer of 4 short films and a stage play. Edinbrugh based Cate is an all-rounder media lass, who has done just about everything in showbiz. She is also a transsexual woman, a lesbian, and notoriously cheeky.

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