Russell T Davies: If I had a TARDIS, I’d go and see my husband one last time
Russell T Davies has revealed what he’d do if he had a real-life time machine, and it’s heartbreaking.
The TV showrunner, who revived Doctor Who back in 2005, revealed his time travel plans to the BBC’s Desert Island Discs as he opened up about his late husband Andrew Smith, who died in 2018.
Davies explained: “If I had a TARDIS, I would go to Canal Street in Manchester and be a bystander in Cruz 101 on April 12, 1998, as I was standing by the railing, and he was standing at another railing with his friend, and we caught eyes. What a magic moment.”
Speaking about his husband, he said: “He was the nicest man in the world… he was so polite, and so kind, and so loving towards people. It was extraordinary. He will be in every good man I’ll ever write now.”
Russell T Davies gave up US TV career to become his husband’s carer
Davies explained how Andrew’s diagnosis with a stage four cancer in 2010 led him to give up on a transition to US television to become his carer.
He said: “They gave him 18 months to live, and he lived for the next eight years. I gave up work for a few years and became his carer, and I was lucky enough to be able to do that.
“I could talk about the roles of carers forever, and I certainly had it lucky in many ways – he was capable of doing things, he just needed that extra help. It was hard, and it was an honour, and those eight years that I cared for him were our happiest years.
“They were so intimate and honest, and everything else falls away. It’s love. That love, to be able to be like that, made me feel good as well.
“I actually miss that. At the time I’d have wished for some freedom, but now I’ve got a bit of freedom, I would chuck that freedom away in an instant just to have five more minutes sitting and watching a television with him.”
Queer stories are still unexplored territory
The TV writer, who picked up a PinkNews Award last month for his years of creating LGBT+ content, spoke about what drives him to put queer characters on screen.
He said: “Since I left Doctor Who, I kind of said, I’m going to write gay stories from now on, and it’s what I’ve done.
“[Writing gay stories] is my joy, it’s what I think about, and these are the ideas that I have without thinking.
“It’s unexplored territory, and any sense of queerness is still very new as a society. We’ve always been there, for thousands of years, behind the scenes making the sensible decisions, but as an out society we’re less than 50 years old, really.
“There are things that we’ve felt and emotions in our hearts that have not been put on screen yet. It’s all there to be celebrated. It’s rich, open territory.”
Backlash against Queer as Folk was a ‘baptism of fire’
Although he is now celebrated for creating LGBT+ shows, it wasn’t always the case.
Speaking about creating Queer as Folk in 1999, Davies explained: “The press launch was a baptism of fire, 250 journalists all of them deciding en masse to set themselves against the show and attack it, except for one journalist – Boyd Hilton from Heat Magazine.
“I’m glad I went through that. I learned to never back down, that the show did have integrity, and that if you believe in your show, you can defend it to anyone.”
He added: “I feel so lucky to have been able to write that show. There was a street full of gay men and women escaping their lives, and going to Canal Street on a Friday and Saturday night to be someone else.
“I watched that all happen. You’d watch these people, a lot of them with a completely different life at home, maybe a closeted life, just standing in those lights, dancing and kissing and being themselves for a couple of golden hours. It was wonderful.”
He added: “When I wrote [Queer as Folk], an out teenager barely existed, I gave a talk the other week at a sixth form in Manchester, and the out boys are so numerous that they are putting a float together for the Pride march. That’s a different world, and it’s got to be brilliant.”
Russell T Davies explains the secret magic of A Very English Scandal
Hugh Grant recently picked up an Emmy Award for his role in Davies’ drama A Very English Scandal, about British politician Jeremy Thorpe’s real-life plot to murder his gay lover Norman Scott.
Davies explained that although the story was well-known, it was usually told through a straight lens.
He said: “The story has been told many times, but the story had always been told by straight men, and it was always a very mysterious story. People would read it thinking, why did Jeremy do this, why did Norman do this, how odd, what strange behaviour.
“I came along, read it, met Norman Scott, and went ‘I get this completely. These are gay men, this is how they live.’ The passions of them, the secrets, the closetedness, I get that. When I met Norman Scott… I walked into his house, shook his hand, and went, ‘oh, I’ve met you a hundred times!’
“I know gay men just like that, and get the temperament of them. They can get overexcited and focus on the wrong things, because of the closet and being other – their passions and their extremities come out in different ways, that sometimes gets distorted… it’s recognising that, and why they do what they do. I hope it was a kind piece of work in the end.”