Get Real ‘Nobody wants to go back to Basingstoke’

Get Real  ‘Nobody wants to go back to Basingstoke’

This is the first in a series of posts I’ve agreed to do about some of my favourite British Gay films.

OK, so they may not be as glossy and sweeping as American gay films. They may not have the high budgets, sun-kissed backgrounds and perfect chiselled torsos either. But there’s something so realistic and normal which I love about British films which I love.

Everyone’s heard of Beautiful Thing – a working class, urban fairytale. Don’t worry, I’ll do another post about that. But who’s heard of Get Real? It’s a middle class, suburban fairytale released in 1999?

Get Real is about Steve, a young British geeky guy, from a prep school, as he struggles to come out, and falls in love with John, the Oxford University bound, head boy/sports captain.  OK, this isn’t the only film to tell this story. But Get Real does it with a more realistic, British twist. John does fall in love back, but as it’s set in a rural town in Hampshire, coming out isn’t so easy. Not to mention little complications like John’s designer girlfriend, and Steve’s best friend Linda who’s always ready with a comeback to put most drag queens to shame.

It is in my top ten gay British films, for a number of reasons:

  • It’s set and filmed in my home county, Hampshire. I grew up just over half an hour away
  • I used to go to a gay youth group in Basingstoke so it has fond memories
  • When I saw it, I was about the same age as the main characters, just out of secondary school. The suffocating feeling of not being able to come out at secondary school, and secretly fancying the sports team at school, really resonated with me
  • It has some great lines and characters throughout

My favourite line, and one I still say with my friend Adam, whose mum still lives in the town, is ‘Nobody wants to go back to Basingstoke.’ This is from a scene when Steve complains to his best friend Linda how much he wants to return, to see John, his secret Head Boy lover. And trust me, if you’ve ever been there, it’s not a place people often hanker to return to.

When I saw the film I was pleased to recognise such sights as Basingstoke town centre and the cinema where I went to see the film on a double date with my best friend and our boyfriends. I think we were about the only people in the whole cinema. It had a very limited release outside London, and I suppose they thought they’d at least better show it in its home town – for all of a week.

There are some great characters, Linda’s sassiness and quips would give Leah from Beautiful Thing a run for her money.

Steve comes out in assembly in front of the whole school. And this being a British film, and not The Dead Poet’s Society, no one else stands up to join him.

Have you seen this film? What British gay films would you recommend, or like me to include in future blogs? I’d love to hear from you.

Liam Livings xx

13 thoughts on “Get Real ‘Nobody wants to go back to Basingstoke’

  1. I loved ‘Get Real’, and I even visited Basingstoke with a friend years ago (in the same weekend we visited the ‘sets’ of Beautiful Thing). I’ve sat on that bench (at least I think it was that one… but at least one in that area), and there is a pic of me trying to climb a certain wall as well lol

    Next to Beautiful Thing, this is one of my favourite gay films.

    As for reccommendations… ‘Maurice’ is the only one springing to mind.
    *frowns* I suck at remembering titles sometimes, but I know there’s one with Roger Daltry in it that’s a bit more gritty, but still worth a peek.

    • Maurice is a great film. I will do a future post about it.
      The Roger Daltry one is Like It Is and it’s about a gay boxer, has Dani Behr in it and also features a scene with a row boat. I had it on VHS after taping it from the TV. Like It Is will be on a future post.

  2. Oh, I haven’t seen this but it looks lovely. I watched Weekend the other day which was thought provoking. And of course, there’s always Maurice. That was the only gay Brit film I saw as a teenager, and it made a very lasting impression on me.

  3. I have seen this one and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    My favourite UK gay movie is probably Beautiful Thing, even if sometimes it seems like a Who’s Who of the current/semi-current cast of Eastenders.

  4. If others have suggestions for more older gay british films & books, do let Sue and I know. If I’ve not yet seen/read them, I can quickly rectify that.
    I was planning to include, in no particular order:
    My Beautiful Landerette
    Beautiful Thing
    Cowboys & Angels
    Like It Is
    Bedrooms & Hallways
    thanks, Liam xx
    Now, excuse me, while I ‘prepare’ for the Great British Bake Off…

  5. I loved Beautiful Laundrette and Bedrooms and Hallways. I watched the latter because of an healthy crush I’d developed on Kevin Mckidd. Although I’d probably wouldn’t kick him out now either.

    • James Purefoy is pretty easy on the eye too. Kevin is so sweet as the lovely Leo. Tom Hollander is *hilarious* and so camp as Darren. I think Bedrooms & Hallways is Near the top of my list with Beautiful thing.

  6. I haven’t seen a lot of gay films, I’m not much of a movie goer, but 2 that come to mind are My Beautiful Launderette and Kiss of the Spider Woman. They were released around the same time and I saw both of them a couple of times.

    • Hi Shelagh, I’ve not seen Kiss of the spider Woman *looks on IMDB*
      My Beautiful Launderette is often over looked in gay Brit films.
      Liam Livings

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