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The world’s first interracial kiss on TV has been rediscovered

BFI Archive
The first smooch.
By Aamna Mohdin
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s always been said that the famous smooch between Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura from 1968 was the world’s first interracial TV kiss.

But that’s not the case. The British Film Institute has uncovered a kiss that was shown six years earlier. (Click the link to watch the kiss.)

The kiss, between actors Lloyd Reckord and Elizabeth MacLennan, was first shown on British TV in June 1962 as part of a broadcast of the staged play, You in Your Small Corner. It even had a post-coital scene. The play has not been seen on TV since.

The play follows a young Jamaican man who travels to England to stay with his mother in Brixton before heading to Cambridge to study. He meets and becomes intimately involved with a working-class white woman, who struggles to keep up with his new academic friends.

“I was astounded… it was so explicit, really,” the BFI’s TV programmer said upon finding the scene in the archives. “It subverted what the viewing public of the time was expecting.”

There wasn’t much significant backlash to the kiss, according to The Guardian. At the time, the Coventry Evening Telegraph described the play as “intelligent, original, and thought-provoking.” But there were a “few abusive letters” sent and the BFI is researching how big the outcry was to a scene, until now, that has long been forgotten.

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