After the final episode of Queer as Folk, Nicola Schindler (the Producer), and Russell T. Davis (the Writer), joined us for a last goodbye!

 

c4chatEd : Welcome, there's a lot of people in here, so let's get started. Unforunately Matt cannot make it tonight, so, let's get on...

Russell Davies : Hello darlings!

Nicola Shindler : Hello-o-o

CK_one : ok.....will there ever be any more queer as folk programs cause they so rule and the cast is pretty tasty too

Nicola Shindler : We hope so! We want there to be. We're ready when Channel 4 are.

v_ince : Have you been pleased with the response that the show has generated from both the public and the media?

Russell Davies : Completely delighted with the response. Obviously some of the media have ignored us but we're very pleased that some critics, like Jacqui Stephens from the Mail on Sunday, now love the show (after hating the first episode).

v_ince : How did the response to the show differ between North and South?

Nicola Shindler : There was no noticeable difference except that the people from Manchester enjoyed watching the locations :)

Ziggy : Hi, the series was great, I was wondering which actor got the most attention from the fans and why?

Nicola Shindler : Probably Charlie Hunnan got the most attention. But critical response was divided equally.

jezar : In light of the withdrawal of sponsorship (by Becks), does Nicola (the producer) feel disheartened by their reaction to the series, or feel committed to making gay drama more acceptable?

Nicola Shindler : I'm not disheartened at all, I think because we're proud of the drama, and the negative response to Beck's was overwhelming.

RobWhitmore : What would you say the 'message' of the series has been?

Russell Davies : There isn't a message in the series really, except that gay people are marvellous and their lives should be celebrated and we should see a lot more of them on television! Russell Davies chuckles.

akhk2 : has QAF got plans to go outside the UK?

Nicola Shindler : It's been sold to France, and hopefully it'll sell to other places as well. But other countries' censorship laws are a lot stricter than the UK's.

kippa : Are any of the characters based on yourselves?

Russell Davies : All of the characters are based on me in some way..but I don't get as much sex as they do. Russell giggles. But I'm trying! And I'm 6'6 and gorgeous!

Nicola Shindler : ...allegedly... ;)

cazkay : has the series had any impact on the actors real lives at all?

Nicola Shindler : No impact except that they enjoyed making the series and they learned a lot and it has made them all a bit more famous :)

AndyCam : What were the viewing figures for the series?

Nicola Shindler : They varied between 1.4m (on a bad week) but mainly up around 2 million, 2.2 by the end.

Russell Davies : But if you count the omnibus figure, it's around 3.5 mill.

astral : With Charlie Hunnam being so young, did he feel concern over taking such a role at 18?

Nicola Shindler : Charlie had no concern about taking the role - he's an actor and knew that he was acting a part and that it was a great opportunity for him.

jasonORM : had any feedback from the Village in Manchester as to how the series has impacted on Manchester

Russell Davies : The response from the club owners in Manchester has been fantastic! They think it's actually made the Village more gay...! and without everyone's co-operation, we couldn't have made the series.

lugsi : Do you feel that a follow up series will have the same impact as this one?

Nicola Shindler : Well - as long as we keep the quality of drama as high as the previous series, we hope it'd have the same impact. But hopefully without the *fuss*.

gareth : What was your reason for making the 1st episode so graphic and the rest not so. Was it pressure from the ch4 bosses or a dramatic reason?

Russell Davies : No pressure from Channel 4. It was vital to have those sex scenes in episode one, because it affected nathan's actions for the rest of the series. I don't think we should shy away from sex, and frankly it ensured that those who couldn't stand the heat got out of the kitchen!

RobWhitmore : Are the characters gay in real life?

Nicola Shindler : Some of them are Alexander, Dazz and Siobhan.

fagson4 : were there many complaits of under age sex? was there an issue that it was being promoted?

Nicola Shindler : There were all the usual suspects who came out to complain. But it wasn't a matter of underage sex being *promoted* or otherwise - it was a storyline. And something that actually happens.

alison arber : do you think that there are more programs being produced for gay audiences now than there were ten years ago?

Russell Davies : Yes, I think so. Possibly because there are a lot of gay men and women working in television :) because we're cleverer and brighter than most straight people!

Nicola Shindler : hahaaa rubbish!

Russell chortles roundly.

Kaz : Russell, your're a fantastic writer, what is your next project?

Russell Davies : Aww thank you Kaz! I'm just waiting for news about the second series, because that's all I want to do.

JungleJock : would you argue that the characters were 'real' rather than 'larger than life'?

Nicola Shindler : We feel that the characters are very real. They are the only ones who can sustain good drama. But some people *are* larger than life, in real life... like Russell T Davies.

Russell Davies laffs.

matt : any big idea for series two?

Russell Davies : Lots of ideas, but they're all secret at the moment...:)

Kieitsme : Do you know of any similar programs in the pipeline? AS you say Gay people are far more advanced than straight, so surely there should be more top TV programs due?

Nicola Shindler : I believe gay people are equal to straight people :) There are some stupid gay people and some stupid straight ones, and I've seemingly met them all in the last year.

Russell Davies falls about laughing

Nicola Shindler : and we're not aware of any similar projects.

gareth : Was the series aimed at education of the ignorant or entertainment?

Nicola Shindler : It was aimed at entertaining, and if people learn in the process then we're very pleased.

phil16 : What feelings do you have on the un equal age of concent for gay people?

Russell Davies : I think the unequal age of consent is an abomination and if I met Baroness Young, I would punch her.

richard : Who was the main provider of the comedy element in the writing

Russell Davies grins. ME! With a lot of help from Nicola and Matt Jones, our script editor.

Laura Mold : Where did you get the idea of Vinces love of Dr. Who from?

Russell Davies : Oh, I love Dr Who! So it was easy, I didn't have to research anything.

mickey : do you think that the older socitity are watch this last series

Nicola Shindler : My mother watches it, and loves it. In fact, my whole older family watch and love it. I'm confident that it appeals across the board because it's good drama.

Russell Davies : My mother thinks it's pornography. Bless her.

Michael : There was a lack of sentimentality in QAF, were you reacting against 'issue based' drama and the wish-fulfillment of, say, Beautiful Things

Nicola Shindler : Yes.

Russell Davies : Yes.

Nicola Shindler : Well... not against, but we dislike sentimental drama very much, both of us.

vicky cater : Is the gay issue close to home for you guys, and if so, have you experienced any prejhudice in TV?

Nicola Shindler : I'm resolutely heterosexual, if anyone's single... Nicola grins.

Russell Davies : Erm... I'm gay and in TV you meet very very little prejudice. We're very lucky.

Dennis : What do you feel about Becks pulling their sponsorship on the show, and does this not support homophobia?

Nicola Shindler : We are unhappy that Beck's withdrew their sponsorship because we're very very proud of the programme and all its contents.

Kieitsme : Who coreographed the mobile phone routine a couple of series ago??? It was very clever!!!

Nicola Shindler : Well...Russell wrote the scene, the director directed it beautifully and the editor put it together.

jenn : As the series evidently attempted to portray a diverse range of lifestyle choices, do you feel that to end the series with what looked like a commitment to an exclusive relationship between Stuart and Vince sent a message that this is what gay men should aspire to rather than Stuart's hedonism and self-reliance?

Russell Davies : No-o! I think Vince is not now Stuart's boyfriend and would rather go out clubbing than settle down with a man he didn't love.

Nicola Shindler : in an exclusive relationship

Russell Davies : He has settled for unrequited love. Maybe, just maybe, that's brilliant....;-)

richard : There were no bisexual characters represented...any reason for this?

Nicola Shindler : The reason for that is that none of the characters created by Russell were bisexual and we didn't choose to represent everyone.

Russell Davies : The moment you try and represent everyone, you'll end up with the blandest drama series on earth.

jasonORM : Who did Stuart's hair, and who furnished his apartment?

Nicola Shindler : His hair is natural, with a little bit of wax :) and his apartment was furnished by our brilliant designer, Claire Kenny. It was an empty room when we started.

steven d : WHERE CAN I GET A KANINE FROM ?

Russell Davies : It was the original K-9 from the BBC! But if you look on the net... under www.thisplanetearth.co.uk... they will soon be selling models.

ryanthepoo : who chose the music for the series?? I think that it was tops. I have the CD and I was wondering when the weather girls were going to come on. when they did it just ended the series perfectly.

Russell grins Our script editor, Matt Jones, chose a lot of the tracks and the original music was by Murray Gold.

Oberon : There was a wonderfil scene early on when Vince went into a straight bar and complained about the flock wallpaper - this ws, I think, the first ime I've seen hetrosexuality depicted as anything other than the taken-for-granted-norm - this was a very powerful scene. It seemed to break new ground. Was this intentional? Do you think that, in years to come, you will be viewed as ground-breaking?

Nicola Shindler : We're glad that that scene broke new ground, but basically we thought it was a very funny scene. It was needed, to show that Vince was in-the-closet at work.

Oliver Smith : Will you ever let Sky get their gruby hands on your masterpiece?

Nicola Shindler : We don't own the rights to Queer as Folk - they're owned by Channel 4, so you'll have to ask Michael Jackson :)

Mambo Mark : did the internet chat pick up scene stem from experience?

Russell Davies : Yes-s-s-s. Our script editor, Matt Jones, is very experienced on the old IRC. He taught me a lot.

c4chatEd : and...?

Russell Davies : I've never got shagged as a result though!

alison arber : the drug scene where the character died was very hard hitting - did you intend to send out an anti-drugs message to your audience?

Russell Davies : No, no message Alison, just a good strong story. You'll notice that in episode six, Stuart and Vince are seen taking drugs again..for pleasure. So they've learned nothing.

jasonORM : did you experience any problems during recording in the village with all the hurlyburly that goes on down there of an evening?

Nicola Shindler : We filmed on Mondays and Tuesdays which are quiet nights and everyone in the Village co-operated with us which made it very easy. It was only the rain that held us up.

ceegee : Do you have any future plans for a film, possibly a film for TV i.e. FilmFour?

Nicola Shindler : We'd be interested if Film on Four want to make a feature version. We just want to keep making QAF, whatever the format.

c4chatEd : Just to ask again because some people missed it...

Mambo Mark : Will there be a second series?

Nicola Shindler : We hope so. Two scripts have been finished by Russell and we're very excited by them.

c4chatEd : That's it everyone. Thanks for coming in. Thanks Nic and Russell Goodnight!

Russell Davies : Thanks to everyone for your support, it's been absolutely brilliant!

Nicola Shindler : Bye everyone! Thanks!

Russell Davies : Night all!

 

"There was a slight gay sub-text to this but I don't think anyone noticed. Phew!"

Queer As Folk

'Transmission was madness. Honestly'

When Queer As Folk was first broadcast in 1999, its writer Russell T Davies was unprepared for the passion - and the fury - the drama provoked

 The first gay character I ever wrote was a Devil-worshipping Nazi lesbian in a Children's BBC thriller, Dark Season. She was too busy taking over the world to do anything particularly lesbian, though she did keep a Teutonic Valkyrie by her side at all times. Like you do. Still, it was a start, and at 10 past five on BBC1, that's not bad.

Once I'd started, I never stopped. I created a soap opera called Revelations, which had a bridegroom copping off with his best man. And series two introduced Joan, the lesbian vicar, beautifully played by Sue Holderness (Boycie's wife from Only Fools and Horses. I'm only mentioning this because it is, I think, the only time Queer As Folk and Only Fools and Horses will ever exist in the same paragraph). And a mysterious apocalyptic soap called Springhill saw the producer, Paul Marquess, and myself collaborating over two gay schoolboys ("I'm sick of being 16 and watching Home and Away just in case the boys take their shirts off!"). I even wrote a Doctor Who novel in which the six-foot blond, blue-eyed companion interrupts the hunt for an interdimensional Gallifreyan War Machine to get a blowjob in the back of a taxi. Like you do.

But then came The Grand, an everyday story of 1920s hotel folk, made by Granada. I invented the story of Clive the barman. Clive was a working-class lad struggling to express his sexuality in a time when the proper adjectives and nouns barely even existed. And by focusing on Clive's sexuality instead of subplotting it, I wrote better. When you choose to become a television writer, your work is analysed constantly by script editors, producers, executives, and sometimes even the public. But the most important analysis is your own criticism of your own work. Writers don't often talk about that because it's a silent process, unending and inconclusive and almost never happy. In fact, it's grim. That's why bad reviews don't bother me; I've got myself, thanks. But with episode 14 of The Grand, I was able to say, and would still say now, I done good.

The Granada executives, Gub Neal and Catriona MacKenzie, were then appointed as heads of drama at Channel 4. Catriona pointed out that the Clive script was better than anything else I'd written. In essence, she was saying, "Go gay!", but a lot more elegantly than that. The idea was enough. Go gay. I gave up smoking, went on holiday and tried to think. I came back from holiday with nothing. I was heavy with the weight of it. I was trying, in my arrogance/insecurity, to imagine the definitive gay series. Gay men and lesbians, older men, mothers, fag-hags, closets and camp, homophobia and HIV... A crippling responsibility. So I made the best decision of all. I thought, fuck responsibility, I'm going to write what I want. A good story, with a good laugh, and the odd bit of heartbreak along the way. Just like any story, and to hell with the agendas.

In the last two weeks of February 1998, I bashed out a massively over long 100-page episode. We worked on that script, dividing the 100 pages into two separate episodes. And after about a month, Channel 4 said yes! Fact fans might like to know that filming took place between August 31 and December 19 1998. Those long months are covered on the new DVD commentaries, but finally, it was done. Nice big wrap party. Sex and drugs and sausage rolls. I kissed five men. They deny it now.

At this stage, I was happy. But we still thought that the programme - suddenly shunted back in the schedules from 10pm to 10.30pm by a cautious Channel 4 - would be a late-night curio, watched by insomniacs and closeted husbands. But transmission - February 23 1999, exactly a year after I delivered episode one - was... well, madness. It was. Honestly. It was insane.

Well, hold on, let's be honest - the world didn't stop. But if you happened to be at the centre of that small Queer As Folk world, then that world was mad. The first indication of what was to come was at the press launch. Normally, they are attended by 20 jaded journalists, 30 if you're providing wine. We had 200. All with teeth and knives bared.

Then, as transmission started, so did the papers. But here's a fact. Everyone now talks about the "tabloid storm". In fact, that amounted to one page in the Daily Mail. Every other article then referred to that article, so a thousand references make it look as though there were a thousand original condemnations. As for the broadsheets, the Guardian's telly page didn't review the first episode, and I presumed we'd been ignored, until someone pointed out that the review was on page three of the News section. News!

And the small storm rolled on. After three weeks, the sponsors pulled out. A public meeting on Canal Street saw genuinely furious lesbians screaming at Nicola Shindler, the executive producer, and myself. Elton John and Simon Callow phoned the office for tapes (separately). Stonewall denounced us. The minister for culture shook my hand. A bar in Hawaii started circulating black-market tapes. Ratings dipped, but then they rose. When the VHS was released, it was No 1 in HMV. For one week.

And Canal Street was destroyed; Canal Street was King. You decide which story you want to believe. But in "the gay community", the argument had to polarise into: is this show good for us, or bad? Sometimes I think it's a question no TV programme should have to bear. It's rarely applied to "straight" drama (was Cracker good for us, or bad? Cold Feet? Midsomer Murders? I, Claudius?) But maybe that's sophistry. If the question is asked, then the question exists.

And I still don't know the answer. Come back in 20 years. But one story in particular haunts me, and shows the difficulty of applying a simple "good" or "bad". A gay teacher told me that Nathan inspired a 15-year-old boy at his school to come out. (Good.) In the yard, he was beaten up so severely, he had his cheekbones crushed. (Bad.) The teacher was so shocked that he and other staff members came out. (Good.) They formed a policy against homophobic bullying, to the extent that the word "gay" is no longer used as an insult in that school. (Good.) But weigh it up. Do three Goods cancel one Bad? Is that policy worth that kid's face? Am I responsible? For the face, or the policy? When I say that I don't know, I really mean it. I will never know.

Meanwhile. Far away from the real world, in TV Land, which is orange and smells of pop, plans were being made. Queer As Folk was officially a success. Channel 4 commissioned a second series of 10 hour-long episodes, and we... stopped.

My heart wasn't in it. I didn't want this to continue. A story should tell the one, special time in a character's life. Invent new stories, and you're saying that all their times are special, and I don't believe that.

I also wonder if the size of the reaction to the first series didn't make me run away. I'm not sure success teaches you much. Even the people who loved the show made me back off a little. The writer Paul Cornell once told me, "Writers shouldn't be leading the parade, they should be watching it."

So I wrote a short sequel and finished the lives of Stuart and Vince. Plenty of people hate that ending, but for once I'm not allowing any doubters. I love it. And anyone else who loves it has the ride of their life. If you get left behind, tough. Right at the end, they become mythologised, and fictionalised, and they're frozen in a moment from which they could never return. The end.

We had another press launch. The same 200 journalists reappeared, this time claiming that they'd always loved it. We transmitted, and the ratings were slightly lower - maybe our instincts were right, and the moment had passed. And at 11o'clock on Tuesday February 22 2000, Queer As Folk finished.

But you've all seen those horror films where the body refuses to die. Even Buffy couldn't kill this one. The show went around the world, trailing its blizzard of arguments. And Nicola and I suddenly found ourselves dining at Claridge's with Joel Schumacher, who was determined to get an American version on air. We were expecting a brutal, coked-up Hollywood mogul, with a whip and jodhpurs and a panther on a chain. Instead, we found a kind, gentle, wise, compassionate man. Damn it. But thanks to him, the Showtime channel in the US took the bait, and the new Queer As Folk is in its fourth season. Its fourth!

It's theirs, to do what they like. At last, I'm a viewer - I don't know what stories they're playing until I get the tapes (I'm very worried about Ted). And sometimes, when it's a pissy day and I'm writing like a twat and everything's late and stupid, I can sit here late at night and think that someone, somewhere, is filming Queer As Folk, right... now.

A while ago, I was in Miami. I was sitting with a bunch of gay men. Like you do. And Queer As Folk cropped up in the conversation. One man said, "I hear they're going to make a British version of that show." "Yes," I said, "Apparently so. I bet it's rubbish."

Queer As Folk

The American-made version of Queer As Folk starts this Sunday, December 3.

Russell: It does, doesn't it? Bloody hell. Apparently there are billboards all over New York, and things like that happening. Marvellous! And what am I doing in Manchester, I ask myself?

So what has it been like handing the series over to a complete group of strangers?

Well, a piece of piss really, to be honest. It's so remote and distant. It's lovely, a massive compliment, but if you told me five years ago – or even two years ago – that something I'd written would be a twenty-two hour American series – a $22million series! – I would have been leaping about in the garden, thinking, "that's the best news in the world! " And the strange thing is that when these things happen in real life, you're much more interested in getting your kitchen decorated and paying your bills on time. Real life has a tremendous talent for keeping life very ordinary. So I'm not swanning about in a limousine or anything.

Is that because you feel you've moved on from Queer As Folk to other things?

No, I think about Queer As Folk all the time. I think about every show I've ever written all the time. I don't know if this is true of every writer, but I never quite get rid of them, they sort of tick away in the background. I think it's because it is a cousin, you know, it's not the original Queer As Folk, it's a different show. The moment they said it was going to be 22 hours it became a different show.

When you first heard it was going to be that length, were you worried they might not have enough content to fill the time?

No, not for a second, because there's so little story anyway in the series. It's not like we sold them a murder mystery where the murder's solved in episode six, and then it's over. In some senses, very little happens in Queer As Folk. It's everyday life. It's work, it's school, it's friends, and family, and clubbing, and sex, and relationships. That can run for 22 years! I don't think they were sitting there with cold feet saying, "Oh my God, are we going to run out of material?" because that's life. I do think it would be hard to sustain unrequited love for 22 hours, and I don't know what their plans are for that. I suspect that will change as it goes on. You know, like all American stuff they're hoping for season two, season three, season four. If it's in season four and the Vince character [called Michael in the new series] is still in love with the Stuart character [Brian] and still hasn't said a word then they're in trouble. It's bound to change as it goes on. But that's natural, that's good, that's what stories should do. There's nothing worse than a story that's set in stone and never, ever changes. That would be dreadful.

What sort of involvement have you had in the series?

Minimal. The nice thing is the two blokes in charge, writer/producers Ron Cowen and Dan Lipman, are gay men, it's like a gay man's network. I got on tremendously well with them, we had such a laugh when I met them. It was quite weird, because we'd both spent huge chunks of our lives working on the same thing, just separately. When we met we got on instantly, because we'd all been doing the same shit!

So, the odd little word here and there. I gave some notes on the first two scripts – some of which they took, some they didn't, which is what you should do with notes – and that's it really. I've read up to episode ten, but they're filming episode 17 now. I've got no idea what happens in the middle, and I've got no idea what happens at the end, actually, so it's quite minimal but that's all I wanted.

How would you say your treatment by Showtime has differed from that by Channel 4?

I haven't been treated by Showtime at all, really. I mean, they flew me out once for a visit, but actually it was a hell of a lot of publicity for them. They had a big press launch in New York. And they're not daft; you know, every single gay magazine and every gay writer is waiting to write that article that says "Queer As Folk Creator Slags Off American Series"! Well, not every gay writer, because a lot of people have got better things to write about! But those who want to churn out a quick two thousand words will be dying for that, so it's very much in Showtime's interest to fly me out there and get me saying that I like it and stuff like that. And that's publicity, that's television, that's good business sense.

I have to say I was treated like a bloody king! It was the best hotel I'd ever seen in my life, astonishing, and cars everywhere and they were all "stay on if you want and go shopping in New York!" In this country it's like, "there's your sausage roll, now go and work like a slave!" So that sense of it was weird, but I'm sure they don't treat everyone like that all the time. It was a big press launch and with a big transatlantic deal going on, I suppose they had to do that.

And poor old Nicola Shindler [UK Queer As Folk producer] has not been asked out there once, bless her! It's a gay man's network, I don't think they know she exists, which makes me laugh!

You get on really well with Nicola, don't you?

She's a marvel.

In your sleeve notes for the Queer As Folk 2 CD, you called her "my wife in a parallel universe".

Which made her run! She's not one for sentiment, that woman. She'd slap you in the face if you said anything sloppy like that! She's marvellous, the best producer in the world. I actually believe you could have taken those Queer As Folk scripts and made them into the worst drama in the world, really, using exactly the same lines, same characters and same scenes and it could have been absolutely fucking dreadful! And she made it a classy piece of work. And you watch her other stuff, like Clocking Off on BBC One, I think is such a classy piece of telly. She knows what she's doing, that woman! And she'll make sure she does it, even if she has to tread on a few toes along the way. I bet she's not easy to work for sometimes, but she's absolutely brilliant with writers.

The series you're currently writing for ITV, Bob And Rose, is based around a gay man's relationship with a straight woman. Is there any foundation in that from your own life?

In me? Ha ha, no, not remotely! Not remotely at all, never, ever slept with a woman. Snogged one when I was fourteen. Although the whole point of the story is that anyone can fall in love with anyone. It did actually happen to a friend of mine, who was the gayest man you'll ever meet in the world. He just met a woman, and he says to my face, "I will go to the grave a gay man," but it's beyond labels, it's beyond stereotypes, it's just he loves this woman. They have sex together regularly, and now they've got children and they're very happy. Which just goes to show that anyone can fall in love with anyone. Most times it doesn't happen. Most times life is just normal and we all miss the person we should be with and just carry on making do with someone else, but just once in a while... I'm not a romantic person, but I do believe that. So that's what this is about, nothing remotely based on my own experience! No way!

And that's what was brilliant, what was absolutely fantastic about the man it actually happened to. The prejudice he faced from gay men, from his friends, was astonishing. They all treated him like dirt and laughed behind his back – because it scared them to the very foundations of what they are, you know – out, happy, gay men. It absolutely shook them. It did me. When he first started going out with this woman, I was just laughing, saying, "isn't this ridiculous, isn't he stupid," and then, I'm ashamed to say, I did everything except sit down and talk to him. Then eventually, I did – we got very drunk – and I realized that I was taking the piss out of something very real. It's so easy to take the piss, you know, prejudice takes many forms. It's real, and that's something to be written about.

What's it like working for ITV again?

Fantastic. I love ITV. You see, the thing is, I'm an ITV viewer. You know Wednesday's schedule? Coronation Street, an hour of David Beckham (thank you very much), half an hour of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and then The Full Monty. Am I watching, or what? I am that viewer.

I love them. They're so honest and straightforward to deal with. And all the stuff you might imagine happening – we were interviewing directors today, and the directors were asking us, "are you having any problems getting gay stuff past ITV?" And it's the absolute opposite. They want us to work for them. They want the scripts, they want me to write whatever I want. People forget that ITV made The Naked Civil Servant and Cracker and Prime Suspect. They've always been an adventurous channel. The reason why there's a lot of shit on that channel is that they get sent a lot of shit.

So would you ever go back to Channel 4?

Not at the moment, no, wouldn't touch them with a barge pole! Until I get an idea that will only work on Channel 4, at which point I'll swallow all my principles and go and do it. But no, actually, have they ever sorted out what slots their drama is in? They don't know what they're doing with drama. Everyone else has got built-in slots. You haven't got a clue with Channel 4 when the drama is going to be on. Ironically, they only shows they do that for, the only fixed slots, are for their American imports, which is astonishing! Friends will be on a Friday at 9, ER will be on a Wednesday at 9... and they advertise, you know, "Wednesday night is ER night". You think, "why can't you do that for your own stuff?" They're a very, very schizophrenic channel in that sense. It's not because I'm cross with them, I've always thought that. I used to say that when I was in the building working for them. Very, very strange approach to their own material, it's weird.

You devoted a lot of time into developing the QAF spin-off Misfits and The Second Coming for Channel 4, both of which have been cancelled.

Yes, I did. I mean, it happens, it has to be said. Things fall through. It's not so much the things falling through I object to: we were genuinely led to believe, first with Misfits that it would be commissioned, and then with The Second Coming that it was a definite commission. It was said, "you have got a green light." And so the amount of time and – I don't want to go on about money, but the principles of the thing are best described in money. Roughly, you get 30 per cent when you accept the contract, 30 per cent when you deliver the script, 30 per cent when they accept the script, and then you get 100 per cent of that all over again when they start filming. So when they say it's a definite commission... I don't spend much money, but I went and got my entire house redecorated thinking, I've got money for next year, and then they take away a definite commission which is like – oh God, it's going to sound like this is all about money – all that money's completely missing. So they actually rob you of a living. I'm not poor but, you know, there are hacks bashing away at Casualty who are earning ten times what I'm earning. And it's your life; it's what you're doing for the whole of next year.

They actually asked me to turn down other stuff, that was the astonishing thing with The Second Coming. They said, "will you turn down this project, will you turn down that one, because we want you to work on this. This is a green light, this is commissioned." Yes, I said, marvellous – then they took it away. If I could be bothered, then I could get lawyers and sue them. Except then I'd never work again, so fuck 'em. Can I say "fuck 'em" on Gay.com? Oh go on!

You said you got your house completely redecorated. You actually moved to Canal Street for a while, didn't you?

A little flat just off Canal Street, which meant I never went out to Canal Street, because I could see it out my window and couldn't be bothered!

So you weren't trying to capture the Stuart Jones lifestyle?

No way! It was too close, way too close to Canal Street. It was bizarre – I almost literally never went out. I became a hermit! I went out for chips of a night, very handy for fast food, that was all. I did realise – I knew, otherwise I'd have been living there anyway – that city centre loft lifestyle was not for me.

There are three main series that people associate with Manchester: Queer As Folk itself, Cold Feet and, of course, Coronation Street.

Cold Feet is disappointing this year, don't you think? I can't bear Helen Baxendale, actually. But anyway…

Coronation Street is celebrating its 40th anniversary at the moment, and that's another show you've worked on.

Oh, very briefly, storylining it. And I wrote the most dreadful Christmas video special where Jack and Vera visit Las Vegas. In my own defence, it was written in three days and wasn't, frankly, a highlight! Strangely, it was never shown on television! It's a laugh, it's like a Carry On film, as camp as Christmas!

So would you say Corrie is the opposite end of the spectrum to Queer As Folk in its portrayal of Manchester lifestyle these days?

Not particularly. It's said by everyone, even writers who should know better, that Coronation Street is in a little world of its own, an eccentric, maybe nostalgic little world, and doesn't represent the real world at all. I think it's absolutely the opposite. It might not have the gritty reality of urban life, but a lot of people mistake reality for realism, which is a very different thing. And what the Street does absolutely perfectly is its tiny little moments between people who've known each other for forty years now.

I don't mean the big divorces and the people in prison and the burning down of the pub sort of stuff – the tiny, tiny everyday relationships between people it gets exactly right. In fact, that is urban life more than Queer As Folk, more than Cold Feet. It's closer in its tiny detail. And I love it. It's full of huge, larger than life characters like Vera Duckworth and so is life. That's what people are very afraid to admit. I can point to half my aunties who are like that in different ways, but who are mad. Life is full of larger-than-life characters. They exist. And yet, when you put them on screen people say that's not real. And they look at EastEnders and say, "that's realism, that's true, because everyone's miserable and they're all having trouble, and it's quite dark, gritty and real." It's a very great mistake that people make in thinking that television realism is therefore like real life. And do you know what? In Coronation Street, they have a laugh. And I think people in real life do. Not all the time, but actually a lot of my friends have got a cracking sense of humour and we have a good laugh. They do that on the Street and that is closer to real life than anything else. And so it's head and shoulders above anything.

So what else have you got in the pipeline?

Ooh, I don't know. I don't tend to plan that far in advance. In the New Year, I'll have a couple of conversations with people about two ideas that are floating around, but actually I'm just writing Bob And Rose. I can't bear other writers who work on three things at once because it always reduces the quality of it. And we are paid enough to work on only one thing at once. Despite my earlier moan about money, my sisters would die if they knew how much I earned! Bob And Rose starts filming in March, so round about then I'll start looking around for the next thing.

You were in talks at one stage about doing something for Channel 4's proposed gay website.

Yes, Queer As Folk short stories, but I pulled out of that the second they pulled out of my stuff! It was lovely, and they were half written in my head, actually, bits on the computer, stuff like that. But it was the sort of job I would have had to use my spare time on, like Saturdays and Sundays. And when they pull out of major commitments to you and fuck up your year and your budget, you think "why am I going to give up my spare time for the sake of Channel 4?" Lovely website people, very nice people, not their fault, but tough shit, someone's got to take the flak, and they were the only people in the firing line, so those were ditched permanently.

And that site's been put on hold indefinitely now anyway.

It has, hasn't it? When I got in touch with them – well, I got my agent to do it, but then I got in touch because they were very nice people and I felt a bit guilty about my childish strop. I wasn't about to change my mind, but I got in touch with them myself, and that's when they said, "Oh, actually, we might not be going ahead anyway." For all they knew I'd spent the past fucking nine months writing those things and I had them all ready! And actually, in my head, a lot of it was ready. So, "thank you!" Chimps, they're all a bunch of fucking chimps!

So could you reuse them?

Oh, you'd get caught up in copyright stuff. That's the problem, Channel 4 own it outright.

With Misfits they said it'll be returned to you to take to other channels after two years. Which is daft, really, no-one's going to take an offshoot of a long dead show from another channel. And actually, even if that was the case, even if BBC Two said they were interested, then it would have been very interesting to see if the Channel 4 lawyers stood up and said, "oh look, Hazel Tyler, we own her," things like that. So even then I think there would have many causes for making it impossible. It wasn't worth the bother. You'd just end up paying lawyers, which we don't want to do.

The other project your name's been associated with on and off for the past couple of years is Doctor Who.

Yes, but that was Peter Salmon wanting that, bless him, and now he's no longer Controller of BBC One I expect that's dead. I haven't heard anything for about six months. Apparently, there's a film deal still ticking away, which would stop any television versions, so I think it just had the support of Peter Salmon and I don't know who to talk to now. Lorraine Heggessey [the new Controller] I don't know at all, wouldn't know her to look at her, so I think that's dead.

Well, we'd better let you get on with Bob and Rose. By the way, are you having a housewarming for your newly renovated home?

Let people in here spilling red wine all over my lovely new house? Am I bollocks!

Series 1: Episode 1

On a busy night on Canal Street – the heart of Manchester's gay village – Stuart's latest one-night-stand is 'chicken' Nathan Maloney, while Stuart's best mate Vince goes home with a Muscle Mary. But the night's action doesn't end there – Stuart's baby is being born and he rushes with Vince to the hospital.

Series 1: Episode 2

Stuart makes a play for a client. Vince is put in an awkward position when he is forced into a date with the supermarket's new girl Rosalie Cotter (Caroline Pegg). Stuart is delighted with his new son Alfred. Nathan, whose gay porn stash has been found by his mother, is obsessed with Stuart and determined to track him down again.

Series 1: Episode 3

Vince is caring for Alfred when his friends Alexander (Anthony Cotton) and Dane (Adam Zane) arrive from London for a weekend of fun. Nathan goes with Donna to Canal Street, determined to get revenge on Stuart for breaking his heart. Rosalie spots Vince in a gay venue, but he talks his way out of an awkward situation. Stuart has a threesome, and Phil picks up the sinister Harvey (Andrew Lancel).

Series 1: Episode 4

Vince and Stuart attend Phil's funeral, which the deceased had planned in great, tacky detail – Vince has to read the words of Phil's favourite song, D.I.S.C.O. Afterwards, he meets Phil's accountant Cameron Roberts (Peter O'Brien). Nathan tries it on with tough classmate Christian (Ben Maguire). Later, when he is confronted by his mother, he seeks refuge with Hazel and Bernard.

Series 1: Episode 5

It's morning and Nathan wakes up beside another gay teenager Daniel 'Dazz' Willocks (Jonathan Natynczyk), while Stuart wakes up in the middle of a threesome. Stuart agrees to babysit the children of his sister Marie (Maria Doyle Kennedy), but he ends up forgetting because he's schmoozing a client. She gets revenge by telling him some unwelcome news. Hazel is angry that Nathan stayed out all night. Cameron takes Vince on a date – but loses his temper when Vince is constantly occupied on his mobile phone with Stuart's problems.

Series 1: Episode 6

Stuart and Marie visit their parents and, for once, Stuart's sexuality remains hidden. Vince introduces Cameron to his mother. Nathan's mother Janice gets some reassurance from Hazel, but Nathan isn't happy about her visit and storms out. Then Nathan's father appears on the scene – and gets very, very angry with Stuart, taking it out on his Jeep. Stuart's bad day gets worse: Romey has found a potential husband to be Alfred's father.

Series 1: Episode 7

Stuart throws a surprise party to celebrate Vince's 30th birthday, but makes a big mistake in inviting Rosalie who is shocked by what she finds out. Vince is furious and leaves with Cameron. Meanwhile, Stuart devises a plot with Romey's girlfriend Lisa Levene (Saira Todd) to discredit Lance Amponah (John Brobbey). He is marrying Romey for a British passport but, to Stuart's disdain, seems to be an ideal father for Alfred.

Series 1: Episode 8

Vince is worried that Rosalie has told everyone at the supermarket that he is gay. Lance is arrested after attacking an investigator from the Home Office. Stuart convinces Romey that he didn't inform on Lance and goes with her and Lisa to confront the real culprit, Nathan. While at an art gallery party with Cameron, Vince sees Stuart being rejected for once. Nathan flees his father's homophobia, jumping in a cab to London with Donna, having stolen money from home.



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