It’s been 18 years since Queer as Folk bursting onto British television screens in a Middle England-baiting whirlwind of drugs, sex, and the bright lights of Canal Street, and it remains of the world’s best-loved gay TV shows.
Chronicling the lives of three gay men living in Manchester’s gay village at the turn of the millennium, Russell T Davies’ groundbreaking drama series drew critical acclaim – not to mention a great deal of controversy – for its frank, funny and fearless depiction of LGBT life.
After Charlie Hunnam’s request for a reunion of the iconic Channel 4 series sent us on a serious nostalgia trip over the weekend, Attitude got thinking about exactly where the show’s beloved stars are now.
We’ve done some digging to find out exactly what happened to the cast after the series’ short-but-sweet 10-episode run came to an end in 2000. So without further ado, here’s there old QAF gang as they are now…
Aidan Gillen (Stuart Alan Jones)
Aiden Gillen was already a fairly established TV and film actor by the time Queer as Folk premiered in 1999, but his role as magnetic, manipulative man-hunter Stuart scored him a TV BAFTA for Best Actor and helped propel his career to new heights. He appeared as Tommy Carcetti in three seasons of acclaimed HBO series The Wire between 2004 and 2008, and is probably now most widely-recognised for his role as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish in that little-known fantasy show, Game of Thrones.
Craig Kelly (Vince Tyler)
Craig Kelly’s geeky, love-lorn Vince was the beating heart behind Queer as Folk. A former Casualty star with appearances in Titanic and Attitude favourite Spice World to his name before landing the role, post-QAF Kelly enjoyed further TV success in series including Totally Frank and Hotel Babylon, before appearing in Coronation Street throughout 2009 as Carla Conner’s dodgy business partner Luke Strong. Since then, it’s all gone a bit quiet on the acting front, with the 46-year-old’s last onscreen appearances coming in a couple of short films back in 2012.
Charlie Hunnam (Nathan Maloney)
This one probably needs no introduction: After making his name as Queer as Folk‘s wide-eyed-yet-troublesome schoolboy Nathan Maloney, Charlie Hunnam has gone on to forge a career as one of Hollywood’s most in-demand leading men. Following a gritty transition starring as Jackson “Jax” Teller in eight seasons of motorcycle gang drama Sons of Anarchy, the 37-year-old has appeared in blockbusters including Pacific Rim, The Lost City of Z and the newly-released King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. He even turned down the opportunity to star as Christian Grey in the 50 Shades movie – a role eventually taken by Jamie Dornan.
Denise Black (Hazel Tyler)
After starring as Vince’s free-spirited mum Hazel, British TV veteran Denise Black has continued to make regular appearances in pretty much every popular drama series you can think of, including Benidorm, Doctors, Holby City, Midsomer Murders, Doc Martin, Robin Hood, Dalziel and Pascoe, and The Bill. She’s also known to many as Coronations Street‘s Denise Osbourne and Emmerdale‘s Joanie Wright.
Denise notably reprised the character of Hazel for a fan-pleasing (if not incredibly sad) cameo appearance in Russell T Davies’s next-generation LGBT series Cucumber back in 2015.
Antony Cotton (Alexander Perry)
Now one of the most recognisable gay actors on British television, a then 24-year-old Antony Cotton got his big break playing Vince and Stu’s loud and proud friend Alexander. As well as appearing in over 900 episodes of Coronation Streets as barman Sean Tully since 2003, Antony took part in ITV singing competition Soapstar Superstar in 2007, and won Attitude’s TV Personality of the Year at the Attitude Awards 2015.
Jason Merrells (Phil Delaney)
Before taking on the role of Vince and Stu’s ill-fated friend Phil in QAF, Jason Merrells had tasted prime-time TV fame playing Matt Hawley in Casualty from 1994 to 1997. After *that* tragic hook-up, Jason carved out a career as one of British TV’s most dependable drama faces, starring in Cutting It, Waterloo Road, and Lark Rise to Candleford, before taking on the role of Declan Macey in ITV’s Emmerdale for four years from 2010-14. Last year, hee appeared in Sky One’s Agatha Raisin and also recently implied that a return to Emmerdale might be on the cards…
Carla Henry (Donna Clark)
Carle Henry is probably still best-known for her role as Nathan’s supportive, no-nonsense school chum Donna. She went on to make appearances in 2002 film Revengers Tragedy and 2004’s satirical TV film I’m A Juvenile Delinquent – Jail Me! before turning her attention to theatre – although over the last few years she’s cropped up in TV dramas including the BBC’s short-lived Frankie and opposite Sheridan Smith in 2015’s crime-drama series Black Work.
Peter O’Brien (Cameron Roberts)
Former Neighbours star Peter O’Brien was already a well-established actor when he took on the role of Vince’s hunky accountant love interest Cameron. He’s continued to make regular TV and film appearances since parting ways with Vince at the end of series one – most notably as Theo ‘Stitch’ Labert in Casualty in 2007, and as John Howlett in 2009 blockbuster X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In 2015, he returned to his Aussie roots to star in Australian mystery-drama-thriller TV series Winter.
So there you have it, folks. Oh, and if this trip down memory lane has got you craving a return to Babylon, both series of Queers as Folk are available to watch free on Channel 4 On Demand now.