Lance is such an interesting character, isn’t he? He puts up with so much shit from Henry we can’t even begin to imagine... [Laughs] Well, there you go! And you get to feel even more sorry for him as the series goes on. I’m really glad I got to play Lance and would’ve done anything to be in this series. In a way, the great thing about Cucumber is that you can’t take sides equally. Once Lance gets rejected in that quite cruel way – when he thinks he’s going to get married and all that sort of stuff – he really takes it to an extreme, doesn’t he? Why do you think Lance has even put up with his turbulent relationship with Henry for so many years? You’ll see this later on, but, although he’s very comfortable with who he is, he’s had to come through some fire to get there. He’s been through stuff with his dad and by the time he meets Henry, he’s done all the things he’s wanted to do. He’s done the partying, he’s been the boy on Canal Street and he’s come to a different place in life. Henry actually, he’s funny and charming and disarming in the way he just can’t stop himself from saying something when he thinks it. Lance wants to be with Henry and there’s true love there, so that’s why he’s put up with it. What we’ve found watching Cucumber so far is that it really treads that fine line between a comedy and a quite dark drama. A quite serious moment can escalate into a good old fashioned farce, in a way. It does! And what stands out is that it’s a tragic comedy in the truest sense. There are points where people will cry and it only gets worse, because these two guys really should be together. If they could get some really good therapy, they could sort out all their problems. Do you think Henry and Lance Behind every gay man is an even greater gay man – steady now, not like that. But when it comes to Cucumber’s Henry Best, it’s his long-suffering boyfriend Lance who’s been with him through thick and thin for almost a decade. Played by Cyril Nri, probably best known from The Bill, Lance doesn’t want for much – to get married. But when his proposal gets rejected so that Henry can go on his journey of self-discovery, it opens up a brand new journey for Lance, too. Well, basically one of chasing a ‘straight’ guy he’s never going to get. But haven’t we all been there?
are destined to be together? I think so. It’s like from the very first episode, they end up Ross and Rachel-ing it. Will they, won’t they, will they, won’t they? They really SHOULD be together, but then again, maybe they’ve just missed it. Like they’re both reading the same book but they’re on very different pages. But it’s beautifully written and the episodes are just stunning. I could relate to all of these characters – and it’s not a matter of being gay! It’s actually about the relationships. They’re all so profound. Obviously, as Henry’s boyfriend, you worked opposite Vincent more than anyone else. How did you find that? Oh, I swear he’s a fucking gay man in the closet! [Laughs] I keep telling him, it’s just the wife and kids he’s got to get rid of [laughs]! No, seriously, he’s absolutely brilliant. One, he’s a stunning actor, and two, he’s just such a lovely man. For me, working on Cucumber was one of the best jobs I’ve ever done. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I can count three jobs that fit into that category. This part was like gold dust – you don’t get it very often.
And I loved working with Vincent and we had so many brilliant scenes together. I don’t want to spoil anything, but when you’re with Vince, it’s so, so easy. Do you have any expectations as to how audiences are going to react? We’re in a very different world now to when Queer as Folk came out, but I think it’ll be really interesting to see how the Daily Mail reacts. Will they pay it lip service? Or will they realise, you know, this is the world, and it’s open and it’s funny, and it’s tragic? It’s all stuff about everybody’s normal lives that’s been brilliantly put together on screen. Every reaction I’ve heard so far has only been really positive, so yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. How would you describe Lance as a person? Ever hopeful [laughs]. As you mentioned, he’s done his clubbing days and now he’s at an age where companionship is more important than having lots of sex. He represents the choices and the options that are open to the community in 2015 – like marriage. It’s true. You know, I have a friend who just can’t let go of clubbing. And I went clubbing with him the other weekend for the first time in months. I was glad to be out – but just to know that I wasn’t missing anything! No offence to Barcode, because it’s a lovely club, but after it, I was just a bit bored. I danced for an hour and thought, ‘I want to go home now.’ I didn’t want to be there until 5am. I didn’t want to risk losing my coat ticket stub, so I held on to my coat. I didn’t want to be a designated driver. All that stuff I can just do without. I’m actually really happy at home playing a game of Scrabble, or having a quiet coke in the pub. I’m really happy going walking or going to gigs. You get more comfortable with yourself as you get older, and that’s a lovely place to be, you know? Is there anything you’ve learned from Lance? To get on with it, because you haven’t got tomorrow! And don’t settle for somebody who isn’t for you. If you’re hanging on for nine years hoping somebody may change, in the end, you can’t change them. Get used to it and get on with your own life.
Cucumber episode one
Cucumber episode one