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Queer Editorial

nutsinmayq.jpg Quiver

If you’re on the hunt for hidden gems on the iPlayer this month, then let Quiver point you in the direction of the brilliant ‘Nuts in May’.

Forty-two years ago, on 13 January, the now famous blistering summer of 1976 was still a-ways away when the BBC first broadcast Mike Leigh’s Play for Today, ‘Nuts in May’ (toy figurines based on the programme’s two main charcters – pictured). Chronicling urbanites Keith and Candice-Marie’s exhausting struggle to enjoy their dream holiday under canvas in Dorset, this TV classic is now available to watch on the iPlayer, and if you’ve not seen it I urge you to do so. I have my issues with the misogyny in some of Leigh’s work but I must admire him for ‘Nuts in May’ and the follow up Play for Today of 1977, ‘Abigail’s Party’. The magnificent Alison Steadman is in both films and as usual she is a chimeric shapeshifter morphing from the bobble-hatted, guitar-strumming, scrap-booking Candice-Marie in ‘Nuts in May’ to the terrifyingly sexy Beverley with her plunge neckline, onyx cigarette lighter and killer eyeshadow in ‘Abigail’s Party’. How she manages to be so different in both roles still blows my mind; and while ‘Nuts’ isn’t the queer icon that ‘Abigail’s Party’ is, it is a masterpiece all the same. As the advance party of today’s vegetarian and veganism movement, Keith and Candice-Marie wear their middle-class privilege like the blood splattered apron of an abattoir worker. They abhor pollution and pasteurised milk, and Keith charges his wife with chewing every mouthful of food seventy-two times, to aid proper digestion. Keith’s meltdown into Cro-Magnon man is a beautiful window into the disintegration of his know-it-all self-congratulation, but I’ve been interested to see – via a bit of online research – that Keith is also something of a hero and uber ecowarrior, which has helped me view him in a new light. Personally, I still detest him and his mansplaining, but ‘Nuts in May’ is one of those rare treats that makes you laugh and simultaneously sets your teeth on edge. It’s not exactly light relief, so while this isn’t a happy-happy column this month, I feel it’s my duty to let you know that this jewel of the BBC’s back catalogue is now available for you to enjoy. All together now: “I want to see the zoo she said, I want to see the zoo.”