This gripping edition of Granada Television's On Trial series recreates one of the most infamous trials in British legal history. The prosecution of Oscar Wilde for gross indecency with other men followed Wilde's disastrous libel charge against the exceptionally unpleasant Marquess of Queensberry, father of his lover Lord Alfred Douglas. Micheál MacLiammóir was a full two decades older than Wilde's 40 years at the time of the trial, yet his portrayal is a marvel. Homosexuality is arguably signalled more explicitly here than in the two feature films about his downfall released the same year.
Though ultimately futile, Wilde's challenge to the prosecution's moral judgement and unashamed defense of "the love that dare not speak its name" retains extraordinary power, not least when re-enacted with such skill. The outcome of these trials is no surprise: Wilde was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour, and died, destitute, in Paris in 1900. MacLiammóir's one-man show The Importance of Being Oscar debuted in Dublin in 1960, and went on to tour around the world. The Granada series included a re-enactment of the 1916 trial of Roger Casement, also available to view on BFI Player.