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Jamie Drag Queen at 16

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Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 was a BBC 3 hour long documentary, created as part of the ′Fresh′ strand for new directing talent. It first aired on Wednesday 20 July, 9pm 2011.


The film chronicles Jamie Campbell's life as he follows his dreams to become a Drag Queen. Not an easy career choice for a 16 year old living in a small ex-mining village in County Durham.

Jamie has faced his share of bullying since he came out as gay aged 14. Before he leaves the village and heads for the bright lights of London, he plans to reveal his true self at his end of year school prom. Jamie wants to ditch the recommended dress code and wear a dress instead. He dreams of attending prom as his Drag Queen persona 'Fifi La True'.

His Mum Margaret has raised Jamie alone and is fiercely protective of her only child. She's aware of how cruel others can be and while she does fear for her sons feelings and even his safety, she knows he has to be true to himself or forever regret it.

Jamie meets Newcastle's lead Drag artist Betty Legs Diamond, she offers her stage at renowned venue Boulevard, for Jamie to hone his Drag Queen persona. When Jamie reveals his plans, Betty reminds Jamie ″life isn't always a film″ as she anticipates trouble on the horizon if Jamie carries out his plans for Prom.

Jamies best friend Sam is let in on Jamies plans and supports her friend, even dancing on stage with Fifi La True for her debut performance.

Many friends from school witness Jamies second coming out moment and there is an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance in the theatre that night. But Jamie has to tell his Dad of his plans and still face the bullies at prom...in a dress.

Jamie organisses a meeting with his Dad, although supportive of his plans to be a Drag Queen he persuades Jamie that wearing a dress would detract from everyone else's special night. Jamie returns home dejected but in agreement with his father. One of the most surprising moments in the film is how his mother reacts. She is furious at the power his distant father still has over his life. She's annoyed by how Jamie can be so excited about his plans and have self-belief and it can be crushed and replaced with self doubt in a matter of minutes. His Mother tries to convince Jamie that he is only making this choice to keep his father happy and it's more important that he is true to himself.

After his performance at Boulvard in Newcastle Jamie decide he will attend Prom in a dress. He feels supported and ready to reveal his true self to everyone else, no more secrets and hiding.

Jamie wears his perfect gown and emerges like a butterfly from a cocoon, his moment has arrived and Jamie is full of nerves when he pulls up outside Prom. However, as anticipated the school tell Jamie that he is not wearing regulation dress code and he can not join his peers inside. As a surprise to everyone all his year exit the prom and inform the teachers ″if he's not coming in, then they're not going in″. The teachers have no choice but to allow Jamie inside his end of year prom to celebrate with all his friends.

This moment is a beautiful example of how far society has come. Jamie anticipated negativity and hostility, instead he was accepted with open arms.

But it turns out Betty Legs Diamond was right: ″life isn't a film″. The following morning Jamie receives a text from his father to say he no longer wants him in his life. The ultimate acceptance followed by this enormous rejection has Jamie on a rollercoaster of emotions. But it seems Jamie has developed such a strong understanding of self that he won't see this as his issue. It is his fathers. He says that he is not going to beg for his acceptance and this is him whether he likes it or not.

Jamie is leaving his school years behind and that period in his life where he was uncertain and confused. He has grown up and is realising happiness requires you to be true to yourself.


The documentary was directed by Jenny Popplewell; creator of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, after she was contacted by Jamie, a fan of the Gypsy Wedding series. The documentary was seen by Jonathan Butterell and it inspired him to create the West End musical ′Everybody's Talking About Jamie′ with book by Tom MacRae and music by Dan Gillespie Sells, the lead singer of The Feeling.

The Musical transferred to The Apollo from The Sheffield Theatre and has won a host of awards including Attitude Culture Award, and two UK Theatre Awards: ′Best Musical Production′ and ′Best Performance in a Musical′ for John McCrea who plays Jamie.





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