Russell T Davies
RTD on... why Cucumber was so long in the making. The first episode I’d had written in the beginning of 2011 and I was living in America, working with Showtime, who made the American version of Queer as Folk. They had happy memories of that and wanted the next generation of stuff and it was all systems go. We were home for like two weeks in the summer and Andrew [Russell’s partner] was diagnosed ill and that was that. I just stopped work there and then. Fortunately it was a miracle that he got his diagnosis while we were in Britain, because if we’d been in America you can’t fly. You’re forbidden from flying because of the pressure on your skull, so we’d have been stuck over there. Strange, strange days. This just sat there then. I’m a very good saver so I was always financially fine to just wait. I get repeat fees off Doctor Who FOREVER. So I just put it in a drawer and forgot about it, really. Everyone thinks I spent those two and a half years secretly thinking about Cucumber. Literally just didn’t give it a second thought – just went, ‘Nope!’ In 2014, we named him one of the biggest gay icons of the last 30 years – and rightfully so. Queer as Folk was a truly trailblazing piece of work. And now, 16 years later, his telly triad of Cucumber, Banana and Tofu looks set to be just as good as – if not better than – its predecessor. So who better to tell us about this truly unique TV event than the man himself... Gentlemen, it’s RTD.
RTD on... the hardest thing being a middle aged gay man. You’re jealous. You’re absolutely jealous of a world in which you can be so out now. There’s nonetheless lots of gay people still in the closet, but that was part of the motive about Henry as well, which is we he’s so attracted to that flat, which is why he goes and lives there. It’s kind of reliving his own life again. He even says to Dean at one point in a Banana episode that, when he was a student, he lived in a flat like theirs. But I bet he wasn’t out as Freddie and Dean, strutting around. I think it’s the destiny of every older generation to think that about the other generation.
RTD on... each character being a part of him in some way. I’m kind of in all of them. Yes, everyone. I’m in Henry in wanting more out of life, in Lance in wanting to settle down, in Dean in wanting my family to kick off more. We also say the same about Queer as Folk. We can all be like Stuart and we can all have nights like Freddie Fox. Those nights when you think you’re it and you’ve got it. Everyone, even the most modest of us, has a night where you think you’ve got it, and you can go up and you can strut like a peacock. So I’m kind of all of them. I think every good writer is a psychologist in the end, and psychology hasn’t changed. That’s why I’m not worried whether the characters are young or old. one of the best pieces of writing I’ve done on the whole show is episode two of Banana, which I’m writing as a lonely 19-year-old lesbian.
RTD on... not being able to represent everyone. Frankly, you could publish GT daily and you still won’t satisfy everyone. I can write ten million dramas and I still won’t satisfy everyone, because there are a million different gay people, a million different gay stories to be told. Also, the real truth of it is, you and I, GT and I, could provide the most pinsharp, laser-sharp representation of a gay man, and they wouldn’t recognise themselves. Because who likes looking at a photo of themselves? No one. We all react badly when we see a photo or hear our own voice. That’s why every single person who comes off a reality show says, ‘Oh, that was the editing. That wasn’t really me’.