Jan 7, 2014

Tommy Knight: The First Gay Kid on Children's TV, Almost

The CBBC children's sci-fi series The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-2011) spun off Time Lord Dr. Who's companion Sarah (Elizabeth Sladen) into modern-day London, where she fought monsters and aliens with the help of her adopted son, Luke (Tommy Knight), a genetically-engineered alien clone with superhuman intelligence.

Plots involving saving the galaxy alternated with Luke's life at school, where he investigates paranormal mysteries with the help of his friends, Maia (Yasmin Paige) and Clyde (David Anthony).

Sorry, this isn't Tommy Knight; it's Jamie Davis, who played an evil alien Bane. Tommy is the guy in the towel having his nipple tweaked, below.

None of them are particularly involved in the heterosexual exploits that American teencoms are famous for; but there were occasional scenes showing Luke becoming fond of Maia or another teen girl character, and not a lot of homoerotic buddy-bonding with Clyde.

The writers didn't intend for Luke to be gay from the start; but around 2010, Steve Andrews, head of Drama and Acquisitions for CBBC, asked them to add "normal gay teen."

Maybe a genetically-altered alien clone with super powers wasn't the best choice for "normal."

Luke had been written out of the show, sent off to University, but they decided to bring him back.  They asked actor Tommy Knight, "Do you mind if Luke is gay and has a boyfriend?"

He didn't mind.  So Luke started video-phoning his mother and his friends, dropping hints and talking enthusiastically about his new friend Sanjay.  He would have come out, and introduced Sanjay as his boyfriend, except that Sladen's illness and tragic death caused the program to end.

Close, but Luke didn't quite make it as "the first gay kid on children's tv" because:
1. He was in college, not a kid anymore.
2. It never happened.

Tommy Knight is currently starring on the soap Waterloo Road, as a homeless boy who is taken in by his math teacher. Maybe this one is gay for real.