Why I'm turning my gay wedding into a Channel 4 musical

The first same-sex weddings in England and Wales take place on Saturday. Benjamin Till is celebrating by turning his marriage into a piece of musical theatre, to be broadcast on Channel 4

On Monday 31 March, at 10pm, those watching Channel 4 will witness something rather extraordinary. I can't guarantee they will like it. In fact, I'm pretty sure a fair number of people who see it will be utterly horrified, but no one will be able to say they've seen it before.

The programme is my wedding, which will have been filmed as a television musical on 29 March, the first day it is legal for LGBT people in England and Wales to do something they have been fighting for the right to do for years.

Those reading will probably have already decided what they think. Some will maintain it is the coolest thing they've ever heard. And to those people I say, "Yes we are genuinely getting married" and "Yes, even the registrar, a wonderful woman called Franschene, is singing." There are, in fact, only two sentences in the entire 48-minute ceremony which we are required to speak by law.

From many others, we will hear a parade of clichés. "More car-crash telly!" "Not all gay men like musicals." "Musicals are rubbish." "Why would people want to do something so private and solemn in front of two million viewers?"

So why are we sharing our special moment with the world? It's simple. This isn't a musical about our wedding, this is a musical that we have written together about the importance of 29 March, 2014, which happens to feature our wedding.

But while we cheer, sing, dance and pat ourselves on our enlightened shoulders, it shouldn't be forgotten that gay marriage is only legal in 18 countries across the world. Worse still, being gay is illegal in 70 or more, and is punishable by death in seven. This is a film about hope. If within 50 years, gay people in the UK can go from living in fear of blackmail and jail to being able to celebrate same-sex marriage on primetime television, then there is hope for the LGBT teenagers of Russia, Nigeria, Iran...

There remain a number of misconceptions about gay marriage that have presented themselves since we started on this journey. First, and for another few months, gay marriage remains illegal in Scotland and there are no moves to change the status quo in Northern Ireland, so this remains a celebration in just England and Wales.

Second, and largely because LGBT people in civil partnerships have talked about their "weddings" since 2005, many people in this country assume that gay marriage is already legal. Some even assume that this new law means gay men can now get married in British churches. They can't. Or they can at the enlightened Swiss Church in Covent Garden, but not in a Church of England or Church of Wales church.

So what is new? Equality is new. Civil partnerships were never the same as marriage. They were similar, but different, and that is not the same as equal. So, true legal (almost) UK-wide equality is the victory we'll be celebrating in our film; the final piece in a jigsaw that was started by incredibly brave people so many years ago.

But why a musical? My partner, Nathan, and I have 40 years' combined experience in the professional worlds of music, film and theatre. We met when I was the musical director on Taboo and Nathan was performing in it. (We call Boy George our "fairy, scary godmother" and he will play a part in the wedding). As a composer, I use music to express my most private and intense emotions and can think of no more perfect way to express my love and gratitude to Nathan.

Why on earth would I say vows when I can sing them? When I can accompany them with the chords and beats and suspensions that far more adequately express my love for a man who has been my rock for 12 years? Nathan is a musical theatre performer with a great respect and love for the art form. Music has run through our relationship like a perfect golden thread. I write a song – Nathan will be the first man to hear it. Nathan performs in a show or cabaret – I will sit on the front row.

Over the past 10 years I've travelled the length and breadth of England, making musical films about real people, about people living on roads and in forgotten housing estates. I ask people to be brave enough to sing about their most painful and joyous memories. How on earth can I expect them to do this, if, when offered the chance to step up to the bell myself, I refuse to ring it?

A musical journey into our lives, of course, necessarily features our friends and family. The opening sequence, for example, is a setting of emails that were sent to us when we told loved ones what we were planning. Perhaps unsurprisingly the first thing the viewer will hear in our film, apart from the voice of the narrator Stephen Fry, is a chorus of that familiar acronym, OMG!

Viewers may be surprised to learn that our own mothers have agreed to sing a duet, which has been shot on film to be played during the ceremony. It's an emotional account of how they felt when they discovered that their children were gay and I am remarkably proud of it and of them.

Of course it's a risk, but sometimes you have to light your candle and stagger out into the dark. Nothing like this has ever been seen on television before. It is a true first. The first gay marriage on telly. The first marriage in a musical. The first through-sung documentary. You can say what you like about the piece, but it comes from a place of love. Love for musical theatre, and love for one another.

'Our Gay Wedding: the Musical' is on Monday at 10pm on Channel 4

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game