This film is part of Free

The Trial of Sir Roger Casement

Peter Wyngarde plays the gay British diplomat turned Irish nationalist, executed for treason in 1916

Drama-documentary 1960 52 mins


This edition of Granada TV series On Trial faithfully re-enacts the 1916 High Treason trial of British diplomat turned Irish nationalist Roger Casement at Bow Street Magistrate's Court in London. Among the cast performing from the original court transcripts, Peter Wyngarde is compelling as Casement, visibly drained yet dignified to the end. This role came just months after Wyngarde took the lead in the extraordinary South, broadcast live in November 1959 and now recognised as Britain's earliest surviving gay-themed TV play.

Lauded by humanitarians for his exposure of human rights abuses in the Congo and Peru, Casement later embraced the Irish nationalist cause with formidable - and ultimately fatal - zeal. He was arrested on 21 April 1916, hours after landing on the Kerry coast in a German submarine and just three days before the Easter Rising began in Dublin. Casement was executed on 3 August, his fate sealed by the discovery and distribution of the legendary 'Black Diaries', which contained accounts of homosexual activities. His remains were buried in quicklime at Pentonville Prison and finally repatriated to Ireland in 1965.