On Monday (27 June), an innovative three-part documentary series starts on BBC 2, which tells the story of the British AIDS crisis as it’s never been told before.
Co-produced by the BBC and The Open University, AIDS: The Unheard Tapes begins 40 years ago when a mysterious disease first appeared in Britain’s gay community. A deadly and complex virus with no known cure, the ‘gay plague’ arrived at a time when homophobia and discrimination were commonplace. Few could talk openly about their experiences – or their illness.
As the crisis grew, a small group of pioneering researchers began recording audio interviews with infected gay men and their friends. These interviews – a frank, intimate and sometimes humorous account of life at the heart of the AIDS epidemic – were archived in the British Library and have never been broadcast before. The series brings them to life with young actors who lip-sync to the original voice recordings.
Over the course of three episodes, we move through the 80s to the early 90s when protease inhibitor was developed, which completed the drug combination that finally proved successful in managing HIV.
Peter Keogh, Professor of Health and Society at the OU was one of the academic consultants involved in the series. Using his expertise, Peter helped to shape and advise on the script and production. He commented:
“It’s been a pleasure to be involved in the making of this series as an academic consultant. The programme covers much new territory such as the roles that communities played in responses to HIV, the invention of safer sex and communities of mutual care. All of these are central to my own research.”
Further content on how people conducted their romantic lives when there was a lot of fear about AIDS, as well as interviews with people currently living with HIV, will be available on the OU’s Connect site when the first episode airs.
- Commissioned by Dr Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast & Partnerships
- Academic Consultants: Prof. Peter Keogh & Dr Rose McFarlane
- Media Fellow: Dr Erica Borgstrom
- Broadcast Project Manager: David Bloomfield
- Supporting online content: Andrew Hudson
This series was commissioned by Broadcast and Partnerships and is supported by the Faculty of WELS, with particular relevance to: