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UCA graduate creates the UK's first transgender sitcom

UCA graduate Elliott Kerrigan is the creator of the UK’s first transgender sitcom, Boy Meets Girl, which recently aired on BBC 2. Elliott has spoken proudly about the warm reaction on his ground-breaking sitcom has generated, commenting that it was very special to know that his show – which had its finale on BBC 2 on Thursday 10 October – has had a positive effect on people’s lives: “One person said it had given them hope, which was incredible to hear. That was one of the moments I’ll never forget. That was the cherry and the cake. It was very special.”

Boy Meets Girl tells the story of the blossoming relationship between 40-year-old transgender woman Judy, played by actor Rebecca Root, and 26-year-old Leo, played by Harry Hepple. It’s been acclaimed for being the first positive portrayal of a transgender leading character in a British comedy.

Elliott’s script for the show was picked up through the Trans Comedy Award, run by the BBC’s Writers Room. “I’d been working in a bookshop, which then closed down, so I was looking online for any kind of job to do to occupy my time. I went on the BBC Writers Room website just before I went to bed and saw the competition, which I thought I’d love to enter, just to do something to fill my time,” said Elliott, who’d previous won the Writers Room’s Laughing Stock competition. “I thought I couldn’t enter because I know nothing about trans. I don’t know anyone who’s trans. But I went to bed, and by the time I woke I had the first page in my head, and that first page hasn’t changed one bit.”

Elliott admits that he only did two pieces of research when working on the script – watching the film Transamerica and reading the biography of writer and socialite Lady Colin Campbell. “I didn’t have to do a lot of research as I could hear Judy’s voice. The truth is, once I could hear her voice, I just became a typist typing up what she was saying. She carried me the whole way through. It sounds weird but that’s what happened.”

As his prize, Elliott got the chance to have his script read in front of an audience. The BBC then commissioned a pilot for the Salford Sitcom Showcase, before going on to commission a full series of six episodes.

The plan had always been to cast someone transgender in the lead role, and Elliott said when he heard Rebecca Root’s audition he had a 'light bulb moment: “I thought, ‘that’s Judy’. Hers was the voice I’d been hearing in my head for the whole thing. It was always going to be Rebecca.”

With the series now wrapped, Elliott has moved on to his next project – a personal Radio 4 drama called Midnight at Christmas, which will be aired in 2016.