Cyril Nri


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

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