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Russell T Davies says parents found Queer as Folk ‘difficult’

Reiss Smith May 13, 2019
Charlie Hunman, Aidan Gillen and Craig Kelly in Queer as Folk.

Charlie Hunman, Aidan Gillen and Craig Kelly in Queer as Folk. (Channel 4)

Russell T Davies has recalled his parents’ reaction to his seminal LGBT+ series Queer as Folk on the eve of his latest drama Years and Years.

When Queer as Folk debuted in 1999, it was instantly heralded as a milestone in LGBT+ representation.

But two viewers who found the Channel 4 drama somewhat uncomfortable, Davies has revealed, were his own parents.

Queer as Folk was quite difficult for them in the sense that a lot of people, especially of their age, just saw it as porn,” he told The Big Issue.

Queer as Folk was quite difficult for them.”

—Russell T Davies

“The day it was transmitted was my mum’s 70th birthday and some people didn’t come to her party because I was going to be there. Not because they hated me, but they were embarrassed.”

Davies said that despite the awkwardness, his parents remained supportive and loving.

“Maybe they wished there wasn’t nakedness and gay sex on screen, but they never ever said that to me. They just said they loved me no matter what.”

Queer as Folk broke barriers

Queer as Folk starred Aidan Gillen, Craig Kelly and Charlie Hunnam as three gay men living around Manchester’s Canal Street.

When the show first aired, Section 28, the legislation banning local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality, was still in place, and the age of consent had not yet been equalised.

The series was criticised by some LGBT+ campaigners for failing to delve into these topics fully, however it did touch upon issues such as recreational drug use, HIV/AIDS and same-sex parenting.

It faced a fierce backlash from conservative critics such as Daily Express’ Peter Hitchens, who at the time called it a piece of “propaganda” aimed to convincing viewers that “homosexuality is normal behaviour.”

Despite this, the series inspired a generation of young LBGBT+ people, many of whom credit the show with helping them to come out.

An American spin-off aired for five series from 2000 until 2005. In December 2018, the US network Bravo announced plans to produce an all-new version, with Davies on board as an executive producer.

Russell T Davies returns with Years and Years

The Welshman’s latest series, which begins on BBC One on Tuesday (May 14), tells the story of “an ordinary Manchester family” living through an increasingly divisive political climate.

Russell T Davies with producer Nicola Shindler and actor Russell Tovey.
Russell T Davies with producer Nicola Shindler and actor Russell Tovey. (Valery Hache/Getty)

“It starts in 2019 and goes forward 15 years,” Davies told Radio Times.

“So you see where we’re heading. History and society seems to be mad at the moment, it seems to be quite a fevered time. So it’s trying to capture that, it’s trying to guess where we’re going.”

The series stars Russell Tovey, Jessica Hynes, Rory Kinnear, Ruth Madeley, T’Nia Miller and Anne Reid as the Lyons family, while Emma Thompson plays Vivienne Rook, a populist MP described as a “an entertainer, a rebel, a trickster and a terror.”

More: queer as folk, russell t davies, years and years

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