Queer as Folk was slammed by gay press for not addressing Aids, Russell T Davies recalls

The famed writer has recalled the early reaction to Channel 4's groundbreaking LGBT series.


It beamed gay lives straight into living rooms across Middle England and is now rightly regarded as one of the most important breakthroughs for LGBT representation in TV history, but Queer as Folk writer Russell T Davies has revealed it wasn't just homophobes who attacked him when the show first began airing back in the late '90s.

Davies, whose new three-part drama starring Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal, about the 1970s Jeremy Thorpe scandal, is set to begin airing on BBC One next week (May 20), has recalled how sections of the gay press slammed Queer as Folk at the time for not explicitly addressing the issue of Aids.

While Queer as Folk tackled issues including drug-abuse, underage sex, and homophobia in the workplace, Aids remained conspicously absent over the course of the show's two-season run from 1999-2000.

Casting his mind back to the series' launch in 1999, Davies, 55, told The New Statesman how he was attacked by a room full of angry LGBT journalists when the series first began airing.


"That was a fuck of a press conference, that", Davies recalled. "People shouting at us, 200 people packed into a room; terrible, very volatile."

Davies, who penned a second gay drama series for Channel - the divisive Cucumber - in 2015, added that an "Aids drama" is one of the many future projects he is now working on in the background.

According to The New Statesman, the as-yet untitled project will tell the story of "a generation being wiped out quietly while everyone just… all the straight world just carried on going to work and having their tea and watching the television".

The US version of Queer as Folk ran for five seasons from 2000-05

It wasn't just the British version of Queer as Folk that attracted controversy: When the show was remade for US TV, the character of Justin (the equivalent to Nathan in the British series) was aged up to 17 because US networks wouldn't air scenes depicting underage sex.

"They said, ‘that’s illegal’," Davies explained. "You can show bank robberies, you can show murders. Television’s about an awful lot of illegal stuff… if Queer as Folk was new now, I’d be having to defend that a lot harder.”

Meanwhile, you can check out what the cast of the original version of Queer as Folk are up to now here.