Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura's lusty snog in a 1968 Star Trek episode is often hailed as TV's first interracial kiss, but newly unearthed footage now shows British TV actually hit the milestone a whole six years earlier.
BFI researchers have stumbled across a long-forgotten ITV Granada play called You in Your Small Corner, which includes passionate scenes between Lloyd Reckord and Elizabeth MacLennan and was broadcast to UK viewers in 1962.
As well as kissing, the play aired live with a graphic post-coital scene, BFI’s TV programmer Marcus Prince, told The Guardian.
“I was astounded … it was so explicit really,” says Prince, who discovered the footage.
“This groundbreaking TV play is such an important rediscovery,” says Heather Stewart, BFI Creative Director. “A document of British social history, it demonstrates the role of progressive television drama as a reflection of our society.”
“Fifty years on, diverse on-screen representation is still an urgent issue and we must continue as an industry to effect much-needed change.”
Star Trek did air the first interracial kiss in the US, but even before the BFI's discovery it was known that British TV show Emergency Ward 10 aired an interracial kiss between Giles Farmer and Louise Mahler in 1964.
Described by the BFI as a “sophisticated dissection of the subtleties and difficulties which affect the couple across race and class lines,” You in Your Small Corner was written by Reckord's brother, Barry.
It tells the story of a love-lorn man from Jamaica who travels to the UK to stay with his mother in Brixton before he heads to study at Cambridge. He gets involved with a white woman on the rebound but feels ashamed when she can't keep up with his intellectual university friends.
Both actors sadly died earlier this year, before their part in the historic smooch was widely acknowledged.
A clip from the play is on the BFI website and it will be shown in full at BFI Southbank on Sunday 13 December at 2pm.
The BFI is also holding a Race and Romance on TV event to discuss how TV has represented black and minority ethnic relationships over the years, with panellists Adrian Lester, Art Malik and director Gurinder Chadha.