Monday 25 September 2023

Betamax Find: Claire Rayner's Casebook (Homosexuality)

Every now and then, I come across something on an old video tape which strikes a chord with people. At the weekend, I dug up a 1983 edition of Claire Rayner's Casebook, a series which looked at the various problems and hardships people faced in their everyday lives. Episodes ranged from divorced parents through to alcoholics and couples who couldn't have children. Rayner, of course, is well remembered as a beacon of hope and advice, so I was delighted to unearth, on a Betamax tape, the 10th March 1983 episode of Claire Rayner's Casebook, which focused on homosexuality.

I've now put it up on YouTube for everyone to watch, and it's already received plenty of interest and debate on Twitter. Foolish as I am, I had been completely unaware that Claire Rayner was the mother of Jay Rayner - an individual I have a lot of time for - and he was equally delighted to see the footage resurface. And it's a fascinating programme, detailing the tribulations of being gay in the early 1980s and highlighting the lack of progress which had been made in the 20 years since the legalisation of homosexuality.

Anyway, this is why I spend hours sifting through old videotapes and rolling my eyes wearily at yet another recording of Diamonds are Forever. Revisiting these snapshots of the past can instantly bring up emotions, viewpoints and arguments which feel as relevant now as they ever did. Naturally, society has progressed significantly in the last 40 years, but it's still far from perfect. And many of the comments made by the interviewees in this episode still ring true today.

So, enjoy the video and, hopefully, more of Claire Rayner's Casebook will turn up in the future.

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