BBC Radio 4, 22 May 2008
A Taste of Honey, a documentary produced to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the play’s first performance,
told a familiar tale. Shelagh Delaney’s work, it was claimed, was perhaps the first to portray the life of a working-class
female on the stage in a quasi-realistic manner, while at the same time providing a sympathetic representation of a gay male.
As a result of its performance, British society was encouraged to adopt a more liberal stance towards homosexuality: A Taste of Honey hastened the process of liberalization which was to culminate in the 1967 repealing of the law
forbidding homosexual acts between consenting adults. Such claims are disputable, to say the least: one might argue that films
like Victim (1960), which actively portrayed a male homosexual as the central character,
had a far greater influence on popular attitudes rather than Delaney’s play. Nonetheless this documentary did make the
point – a valid one – that Delaney was one of the first working-class women to embrace dramatic writing as a profession,
paving the way for other women in later years such as Kay Mellor or Caryl Churchill.