Today we are thrilled to have the fabulous Robert Watson joining us to g origin story and give us the origin story of ultra sexy web series A Gay Victorian Affair, winner of four Canadian Comedy Awards, including best web series.
An Affair To Remember: The making of A Gay Victorian Affair, a Story of Historical Homosexual Hanky-Panky.
The date was December 25th 2015. My husband Andrew and I settled down after a family Christmas dinner, joyously anxious to watch the final episode of our favourite show, Downton Abbey. Even on Christmas we couldn’t resist the allure of this staunch British soap opera. We just had to know – who would Mary marry, and would Edith finally have a happy moment in her life? Would Dame Maggie Smith live long enough to make yet another meme-able wry observation? (the answer is yes)
As two gay men with a nerdy love of historical drama Andrew and I had especially followed the storyline of the troubled butler and sometimes villain, Thomas. Sure, he had caused a lot of trouble, but the poor guy had been through a lot as a self loathing secret homosexual of the early 1900s. Along with happy endings for almost all the characters of Downton, from Lord Crawley to little Daisy, we expected Thomas to achieve some sort of resolution and joy. The show aired, but Thomas’s happy ending proved elusive – the best that creator Julian Fellowes could muster was that Thomas got to keep his job. No romantic interest, no journey to self realization, no feeling of fulfillment – oh who am I kidding, I was pissed that Thomas never got to get his rocks off! I was incensed. This affront to homosexuals everywhere, who are hungry for mainstream media representation that doesn’t portray us pitiable objects, could not go unanswered. It was a Christmas I vowed never to forget.
At about the same time I was looking for a new outlet for my creative life. In short, I wanted to film something. My lifetime in the ephemeral world of theatre, where the day after your show closes it feels like it almost never happened, had me thirsty to create something that could live forever. After the debacle that was the Downton finale, a thought occurred to me, “What if they were all gay? What if every character in a period piece like Downton Abbey were queer? What would that look like?” The sparks going off in my brain led me to the concept behind A Gay Victorian Affair. In Victorian England, Lord Reginald and Lady Vanessa Favershum, a gay man and lesbian woman enter into a marriage of convenience in order to keep their true desires a secret… and the they help each other hook up. With theatrical influences like Oscar Wilde and GB Shaw, I set about making a cheeky sexy homage to the PBS Masterpiece Theatre I had watched over the years.
Andrew and I had a pre-existing relationship with Toronto’s Campbell House Museum, a Georgian era home in the heart of Toronto, and the curator was surprisingly delighted to host our homosexual harlequin romance brought to life. With actors Adrian Proszowski, Amanda Barker and Rebecca Perry on board as the core cast we filmed over four days four webisodes of the silliest sexiest LGBT debauchery we could make. The most delightful aspect of creating this show, besides the chemistry of the cast, was the deliriously dirty Victorian sex slang that I researched and then liberally sprinkled throughout the show. The Victorians really knew how to describe sex in the most delicious of ways. When Reginald says in episode one “You Dirty Corinthian, I want to tear down those gas pipes and ride rantipole with your plugtail inside my back passage”, you know he’s not talking about home maintenance.
Filmed in April 2017, we hit a snag in trying to find an editor but once that was resolved we released “A Gay Victorian Affair” on YouTube on April 3rd 2018. In comparing our project to other web series online, we were hoping to achieve around 50,0000 views and have a nice portfolio piece to show others beyond photographs and press articles.
The response to A Gay Victorian Affair has gone far beyond what we dreamed for the show’s success. Over 2 million views on YouTube, inclusion in top web series lists, official selections at festivals around the world, and multiple award wins, including four Canadian Comedy Awards, we are overjoyed that these characters have resonated with both gay and straight audiences alike. As a result, Season Two is on the schedule to be filmed this August, with all the familiar cast and a few new faces for our vast audience to enjoy. Lord Reginald’s bishop needs a wick dipping and I just can’t wait.
You can watch the entire first season of A Gay Victorian Affair on YouTube or at agayictorianaffair.com.
Robert Watson is an award winning playwright, actor and fragrance aficionado extraordinaire. He is the creator/producer of the super gay Canadian Comedy Award winning web series A GAY VICTORIAN AFFAIR http://agayvictorianaffair.com/, a Downton Abbey meets Queer as Folk fantasia of homosexual historical hanky-panky. Robert is a mainstay of the queer comedy community producing and hosting Back Room Comedy, Cabbagetown Comedy and Gay AF @ Comedy Bar. He’s funny on Twitter too: @ThisIsRobWatson