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Big Gay Wedding: Tom Allen, Sophie Ellis-Bextor mark 10 years of same-sex marriage with camp spectacular

Exclusive: The comedian says he hopes the documentary highlights "all those still fighting for equality and social justice"

By Dale Fox

Composite of Tom Allen and Sophie Ellis-Bextor with a married gay couple
Tom Allen enlists the help of celeb pals including Sophie Ellis-Bextor in the marriage of Adam and Dan (Image: BBC)

Comedian Tom Allen is set to host perhaps one of the campest TV spectacles of the year, as the BBC marks 10 years of same-sex marriage with one-off special Big Gay Wedding with Tom Allen.

The documentary, airing tonight (27 March) on BBC One and the BBC iPlayer at 9pm, sees comedian and writer Tom Allen pull out all the stops to give one lucky couple, Adam Johnson and Dan Mackey, the wedding of their dreams.

“The day was full of pinch me moments,” Adam told Attitude. “We walked down the aisle to ‘I Will Follow Him’. Our pug carried our rings and Tom Allen carried our pug. Then Tom did a beautiful reading of the lyrics from ‘I am what I am’.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor even performs at the wedding, “emerging from clouds of confetti,” Adam adds. “She is an absolute icon and came dressed as a rainbow flag, danced in the midday heat and really celebrated with us.”

But it is more than just a glamorous ceremony. As Tom helps arrange every detail from outfits to entertainment with the help of celebrity friends like Strictly‘s Oti Mabuse and singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, he reflects on the extraordinary story behind the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

“After so long being discriminated against … this felt like a reckoning” – Tom Allen on marriage equality

In an exclusive interview with Attitude, the broadcaster spoke about the significance of same-sex marriage laws being passed in the UK. “After so long being discriminated against, and the huge emotional pain that came from that, this felt like a reckoning,” he said.

“I hope in showing how it happened in this documentary it can remind us of the journey and perhaps offer some hope to all those still fighting for equality and social justice in this country and around the world.”

A gay couple are covered in confetti during a wedding
Couple Adam and Dan marry on My Big Gay Wedding (Image: BBC)

Same-sex marriage was made legal in the UK in March 2014, with the first ceremonies taking place on 29 March that year. Civil partnerships were introduced in the country in December 2005, allowing same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship.

Reflecting on the collective effort to drive change to bring marriage equality, Tom interviews community giants Sandi Toksvig, Peter Tatchell, Lynn Sutcliffe and Sarah Hews in the documentary.

“I felt very privileged to interview people who had gone out on a limb at a time when making these protests was risky – it involved discrimination and real opposition,” Tom says. “I also think sometimes when we look at the history of something it’s easy to see it as the product of one person or one event. All of these people contributed so much – I hope that we have reflected the debt of gratitude we owe them.”

“I would say something very modest – St Paul’s Cathedral perhaps?” – Tom Allen on his own big gay wedding

And the campest moment, according to Tom? “Maybe when I introduced Sophie Ellis-Bextor to perform at the wedding celebration, and the grooms Adam and Dan performed a dance choreographed by Oti Mabuse in front of an enormous Regency themed wedding cake, and I was looking after the couples’ pug.” Checks all the boxes for us.

“I’m not one for anything too flamboyant. I would say something very modest – St Paul’s Cathedral perhaps?” (Image: BBC)

What would Tom’s own big gay wedding look like? “Oh, I’m not one for anything too flamboyant. I would say something very modest – St Paul’s Cathedral perhaps? Wedding breakfast for two hundred. Dress code: morning coats and top hats. No exceptions. No children.”

Big Gay Wedding with Tom Allen will air on 27 March at 9pm on BBC One and the BBC iPlayer.