IT begins in the Los Angeles of 1976 as Christopher Isherwood types out his autobiography.
Before taking us to Berlin in the 1930s.
Matt Smith was at BAFTA in London last night – both in person and on the big screen – for a preview of Christopher And His Kind.
The moving 90-minute film, coming to BBC2 soon, provides a window into writer Isherwood’s formative years.
Doctor Who fans will see Matt in a very different light as the gay novelist in this post-watershed drama.
Proving what a superb actor he really is.
(Update: The film will finally be broadcast on BBC2 at 9:30pm on Saturday March 19)
We see Isherwood leaving England and his mother Kathleen (Lindsay Duncan) behind for the decadence of Berlin.
At the time of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
Meeting young actress and singer Jean Ross (Imogen Poots), who was to provide him with the inspiration for the Sally Bowles character of Cabaret fame.
And the rather strange Gerald Hamilton (Toby Jones), who inspired the title character in Isherwood’s novel Mr Norris Changes Trains.
Isherwood’s other works include A Single Man, which was turned into an acclaimed film last year and earned Colin Firth an Oscar nomination.
The Cheshire-born author went on to spend most of his life in America before his death in 1986 at the age of 81.
His partner Don Bachardy was at the BAFTA event.
Making it a very special evening for a very special film.
As BBC Drama boss Ben Stephenson told the audience: “A really spellbinding, convincing, powerful script. It’s compelling but quite difficult at times and asks very difficult questions.”
Describing Matt Smith as: “A complete and utter treasure.”
Worried About The Boy star Douglas Booth plays street sweeper Heinz, who Christopher fell in loved with.
While Party Animals actor Pip Carter is poet WH Auden, Isherwood’s friend who persuaded him to join him in Berlin.
Belfast doubles for Berlin in this production, though you’d never know it.
A drama which feels authentic from start to finish.
Including a dolphin desk clock Isherwood first encountered in his Berlin lodgings.
The one used in the film is the very same one.
“If it could tell a tale,” said Ben, “I suspect it would have many tales to tell.”
There was a Q&A after the screening with Matt, writer Kevin Elyot and director Geoffrey Sax.
Below are a few short audio extracts of what Matt had to say:
1. Playing this role while still being Doctor Who?
2. How did he approach playing the part?
3. Having to smoke on screen and the challenge of playing Isherwood?
4. Talking to Isherwood’s partner Don Bachardy?
5. Working with Toby Jones again?