Tom Daley is a man of courage. There is, of course, diving. For the majority of us, heights, difficult routines, and a significant danger of harm are the stuff of nightmares. Perhaps it was because of that same sense of adventure that he recently agreed to present The One Show live. It’s fair to say that the reaction on Twitter was muted.
In the documentary Tom Daley: Illegal to be Me, the Olympic gold medalist speaks to athletes on more comfortable footing (BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm).
The opening of the one-hour movie features scenes from London 2012. Only 23 of the approximately 11,000 athletes, according to Daley, were openly LGBT. James was phoned by more athletes than by individuals who were out, he claims. Daley was one of those who remained inside.
The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which conclude next week, serve as both the film’s plot hook and title inspiration. Daley has also calculated that. More than half of the 56 Commonwealth countries have laws that make being gay illegal. Pakistan, Nigeria, and Brunei all have death sentences in place. He says, “I want to know where all that anger originated from. It’s a massive undertaking that might be too much for one movie, but Daley is to be praised for trying.
He takes flights to Jamaica and Pakistan to meet with LGBT athletes, many of whom must keep their identities secret. The dread of violence and exposure is a recurring theme in the interviews. Daley watches horrified as videos of certain attacks that have been committed are shared online. It makes sense why one interviewee is so terrified of retaliation that he writes Daley a letter.
Daley believes that the Commonwealth Games could do more to emphasize that they are an all-inclusive event. For instance, he wants the organizers to make it clear that no nation with anti-gay laws will be permitted to host a games. Additionally, and maybe more significantly, he wants a Pride flag to be flown at the opening ceremony.
When Daley discusses his struggle to come out and embrace his sexuality, the movie is at its best. Daley has had a difficult life, with his school years being a particular challenge. He is now happily married and has a little boy.
Aside from that, he is excellent on camera, at ease, and fluent, and he gets a lot out of his interview subjects. The One Shows ordeal on live television might have been a stretch for now, but given Daley’s commitment, I wouldn’t bet against him returning for another attempt very soon.
Once again, Edinburgh leases out its apartment to the world and departs for the coast, leaving the rest of us to deal with the festival and its attendant throngs. Really, we shouldn’t whine. Most nations would fight tooth and nail to host the largest arts event on earth once a year.
The Fringe and some Scots’ love-hate relationship is all reflected in this. The Fringe, Fame and Me (BBC Scotland, Monday, 10pm; BBC2, Wednesday, 9pm) contains some well-known complaints, but for the most part, it is a love letter to Edinburgh from some of the biggest personalities in entertainment.
All of them are present, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge who recalls finishing up writing Fleabag on the train to Edinburgh. The rest was award-winning history and a career as a Bond writer.
That’s the goal of Edinburgh: an unknown performer shows in, does their thing, gains popularity by word of mouth, and then departs for London prepared to take on the world (or at least a spot on a panel show). Don’t trust the hype, as the majority of people present will attest. If a night is 10 years, Eddie Izzard’s success at the Fringe was only an overnight success. Before settling on the appropriate act, he tried, tried, and tried again. He acknowledges that Edinburgh can be harsh despite now being able to laugh about it.
Izzard, like many of the talking heads, is seen returning to the city’s rough streets. Alexei Sayle, who asserts to have introduced stand-up to the Fringe at the start of the 1980s, is also coming back. He travels down memory road to a field and the caravan he slept in outside of town. Still present.
The class disparity at the Fringe was one of the things that horrified Sayle and still does. Likewise, Frankie Boyle. He anticipated it being primarily middle class, but it was more. Putting on a show can be quite expensive, making it unavailable to many. Others complain legitimately that the event has a white, male, laddish, north London vibe and that there aren’t enough black acts and women.
All that being said, all it takes is one dream come true tale to make everything better and keep audiences and performers returning. When Bill Bailey arrived in Edinburgh at 6 a.m. on a beautiful day, he recalled finding a pub open, miracle of miracles. He said it was just like Narnia.