Russel T Davies. For a man that most associate with family-friendly BBC sci-fi Doctor Who, his newest work on Channel 4’s no-bars-held approach to lesbian and gay relationships – Cucumber – reminds us all that Davies gained recognition with his cult hit Queer as Folk. Transcending contemporary gay culture in British society, Davies is back on our radars as Cucumber, now on its fifth episode, continues to impress. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, and perhaps not one to watch with the family (Mum: “Well, this is a bit awkward isn’t it?”), but beyond the crude nature of the dialogue and sexual content that is enough to send your Granny to bed at nine o’clock instead of ten, Davies’ newest drama is triumphant in finally bringing relationships ‘without labels’ to the mainstream viewing audience. Kudos to Channel 4 for yet again breaking down the barriers of conventional week-night television.
Cucumber is part of three series’, all interconnected and all focusing on some aspect of being gay. While Channel 4’s Cucumber is episodic, E4’s Banana is an anthology series, with a variety of characters telling their intimate stories. Tofu finishes the trio, with all episodes made available on 4oD. The former is definitely the wittiest of the three, and carefully molds a number of stories together without bordering on confusing. At the heart of the series is Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri as Henry and Lance, having been together for ten years but never consummating their relationship the pair become disconnected and each venture off in different directions – or, simply put, both in search of another person who can fill the gap in their broken partnership. Supporting these two are a host of young talents, the stand-out being Freddie (played by Freddie Fox), a promiscuous artist who Fox plays with a stellar humour and a refreshing cut-throat energy.
With only three more episodes to go, audiences should be rejoicing that at least one terrestrial channel can stand up and tackle ‘taboo’ subject matter. Russell T. Davies, thank you for breaking the boundaries of the norm and giving us an intelligent, original and hella’ funny television series that is unabashedly, and unapologetically, in your face.