chapter  10
16 Pages

Hearing queerly: Television’s dissident sonics


In May 1988, the night before Section 28 of the Local Government Act – a clause which was introduced in order to prevent local authorities from ‘promoting homosexuality’ – was passed by the British parliament, four members of an activist group known as the Lesbian Avengers invaded the BBC’s 6 o’clock news. Presenter Sue Lawley continued reading the headlines over a routine montage as shouts of ‘Stop Section 28!’ could be heard in the background, along with other whoops and indecipherable utterances; off camera, her co-presenter Nicholas Witchell leapt from his desk and (allegedly) sat on one of the women, putting his hand over her mouth to stifle the yells. The shot framing Lawley behind her desk momentarily lost its balance, the corner of her head obscured by a superimposed image, as she ad-libbed an apology, saying ‘we have rather been invaded by some people’.