With the sad passing of John Hurt earlier this year, Britain lost one of its most accomplished and versatile actors. In a glittering career which spanned six decades, Hurt has played a number of memorable characters. Whether it’s Kane in Alien, Winston Smith in 1984 or John Merrick in The Elephant Man, he’s continually captivated on screen. One of his most distinctive performances came in 1975, playing Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant.
Based on Crisp’s biography of the same name, director Jack Gold remains largely faithful to the source material. Following the extravagant writer from an early age, The Naked Civil Servant documents his growth from early naivety through to the trials and tribulations of being openly gay in the 1930s and 40s. The eccentric Crisp was eventually arrested on a trumped-up charge for soliciting men. The film ends with his trial.
The Naked Civil Service brims with acerbic wit and intelligent dialogue. It’s a film which turned Crisp into a celebrity and a national treasure. It also propelled Hurt, who won a BAFTA for his performance, into a star. Crisp is a contradiction. A man who rails against his treatment and abuse as a homosexual man but also goes out of his way to attract this attention. The Naked Civil Servant is often considered one of the best British TV movies, and rightly so. It’s a rich and vibrant portrait of a unique and extraordinary character.
- Feature version [HD – Blu-ray exclusive]: in full widescreen with the ad-breaks removed
- Commentary with John Hurt, director Jack Gold and executive producer Verity Lambert
- Seven Men: Quentin Crisp – a Granada profile from 1971
- Mavis Catches Up with Quentin Crisp: an interview from 1989
- Image gallery
- Philip Mackie’s original script (PDF)
The Naked Civil Servant is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Network on Monday 5 June.