Bette Bourne: It Goes With The Shoes

Directed by Jeremy Jeffs & Mark Ravenhill / Produced by Jeremy Jeffs / Executive Producer: Christo Hird / A Magneto Films Production / 78 minutes


An encounter with an unforgettable legend… This is a richly enjoyable exploration of the life of a born performer… The film offers an insight into a passionate and gifted actor who has made a great contribution to gay life, art and politics.” Brian Robinson, BFI

This gem of a film is centred around footage from conversations between Bourne and Ravenhill from the 2010 Soho Theatre play A Life in Three Acts and further interviews with Ravenhill… Archive footage and interviews with other founding members of the GLF are interspersed with shots of Bourne walking through present day London with Ravenhill as we get a glimpse into the city’s secret history and changing landscape. Wisely, Jeffs and Ravenhill choose to conduct their interviews in their subjects’ homes, rather than the usual soulless white backdrops. This only adds to the humanity of the piece… Bourne is a natural performer with impeccable comic timing. His sparklingly witty stories are tinged with infinite wisdom and an aching poignancy… It’s fiercely honest filmmaking.” Alex Hopkins, Beige Magazine

This sweet, affecting documentary profiles the eponymous actor/drag queen/activist Bette Bourne (Peter Bourne), now a grand dame in his 70s with a lavender rinse in his hair, a fetching array of oversized brooches and a great store of anecdotes… Prompted by co-director Mark Ravenhill, who pootles about London with him, checking out old haunts and meeting ageing friends, Bourne narrates the story of his life. It’s practically a microcosm of 20th-century gay culture, covering the closet culture of the 50s, the gay liberation movement, Bourne’s success with his company the Bloolips, and the arrival of Aids.Leslie Felperin, The Guardian

Actor, (legendary) drag queen and gay rights activist, Bette Bourne is the deserving subject of this docu-portrait, which is part history lesson, part stand-up set. Now 74, the larger-than-life (if avowedly down-to-earth) Bourne relates an evocative, poignant and frequently hilarious tale of abusive fathers, old Soho, terribly English orgies and ceaseless harassment – not to mention parading down Oxford Street with the Gay Liberation Front, “screaming our tits off”. The title, incidentally, is a nod to his blunt riposte to a Marylebone Magistrates Court judge in 1971 who told him to remove his fancy hat. Marvellous.” Ali Catterall, Total Film

Real-time interviews with Bette are mixed with footage of his theatre show ‘A Life in Three Acts’… Happiness cuts through Bette’s actorly range as he talks about formative sexual experiences as a very young gay man. “I’d heard there was wickedness in Soho so I rushed towards it!” he says grinning slyly from a retro cafe. There is an abiding honesty and simplicity to this pre-politics, pre-Bette, pre-actor drama — that provides a tantalising glimpse of what he is like underneath all the experience worn like a shiny and distracting badge.” Sophie Monks Kaufman, Little White Lies