How Russell T. Davies Found His Way Back To Telling Gay Stories

The Queer As Folk creator tells BuzzFeed News how writing gay characters has (and hasn’t) changed in the last 15 years.

Russell T. Davies

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When Russell T. Davies created the British show Queer as Folk, in 1999, nothing like it had ever been seen on television. The beloved 10-episode series presented an unfiltered, unclothed, often unflattering, and entirely unprecedented depiction of gay life in premillennial Manchester, England. In addition to spawning an equally popular American version, the Queer as Folk pilot introduced the world to a very young Charlie Hunnam and offered an instructional crash course in rimming.

After Queer as Folk came to an end in 2000, Davies worked on several shows in the U.K. (Bob & Rose, The Second Coming, Mine All Mine, and Casanova) before he revived Doctor Who in 2005 and turned the classic series into a contemporary juggernaut that produced two spin-offs (Torchwood, which ran from 2006 to 2011, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, which ran from 2007 to 2011).

While Doctor Who remains an ongoing series, the extensive workload led Davies to hand over the reins to writer Steven Moffat in 2008. “I had enough of spaceships and lasers and monsters,” Davies told BuzzFeed News during a recent phone interview. “I really wanted to make a comeback in writing about men and life and sex and bedrooms and mortgages and death and the sheer nightmare and brilliance of forging your way through the world every day.”

But Davies faced a champagne problem when he set out to make a spiritual successor to Queer as Folk. “What I’m always looking for — and it doesn’t have to be about gay life at all — [are] those wide open areas where no writer has found it,” he said. “Where there’s all this open air and fresh material, brand-new territory. That’s the place to be.”

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