Julia Grant was born in 1954 in Preston, England and was brought up in the Lancashire town of Fleetwood, before moving to London in 1974.
She first came to public prominence through a series of BBC TV documentaries directed by David Pearson which began as an episode of ‘Inside Story’, a documentary television series oriented toward investigative journalism. There was sufficient interest in the episode — which was titled ‘George‘— for Pearson to explore Grant’s story further. He and his crew filmed her progress in 1979 and 1980. George was retitled ‘George: The Big Decision‘, and the more recent footage was edited into two new chapters: ‘Julia: The First Year‘ and ‘Julia: My Body, My Choice‘. This three-film series was titled ‘A Change of Sex‘, and BBC2 broadcast it in October 1980. New English Library published Grant’s autobiography, ‘George and Julia‘, that same month.
In 1993, Pearson revisited Julia to film a fourth chapter of the documentary about her life. Filming and editing continued into 1994, but the earlier programmes were also edited in order to make a four-part story into a trilogy: ‘George & Julia‘, ‘Desperate Measures‘, and ‘The Untold Story‘. This revised version of ‘A Change of Sex‘ aired on BBC2 in August 1994. The broadcast coincided with the publication of Grant’s second memoir, ‘Just Julia: The Story of an Extraordinary Woman’.
In 1998, Pearson filmed Julia once more. BBC2 repeated the 1994 edition of the previous films in July and August 1999 before broadcasting the final chapter, ‘Julia Gets Her Man‘. It updates viewers on developments in her life over the past four years — including a new job and a growing relationship.
Early in the series, the National Health Service refers her to the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital. As she sat in the consulting room, we heard the voice of her psychiatrist, later identified as psychiatrist John Randall, but we never saw his face. His attitude towards Grant was stern and disparaging and his deskside manner was the inspiration for the character Dr Ira Carlton, a “despotic GP who rules his patients with eccentric zeal” in the black comedy series ‘The League of Gentlemen’.
Julia went on to a many and varied career running hotels, nightclubs, a ceramics business, organising several major pride events in Manchester and Benidorm, and as an LGBT volunteer and activist.
Sadly, after a period of ill health, Julia died in Preston on Jan 2, 2019.