For Doctor Who fans, Russell T Davies is the man who resurrected their favourite TV show in 2005 and steered the ship for five successful years.
But for Davies himself, the subject he is most interested in – and wants to be remembered for – is his work about gay culture and people.
“Doctor Who was written before me, Doctor Who will be written after me,” says the writer, who admits he has refused offers to return to the sci-fi show despite still being a passionate fan. “These things where you are yourself – subjects like gay culture and gay politics and gay people – are the subjects closest to my heart,” he tells RadioTimes.com. “I hope that will be on my tombstone, to be honest. So I will keep writing. It means the world to me.”
Davies has recently penned Cucumber, an eight-part drama for Channel 4, on this very subject with a companion series Banana showing on E4.
Cucumber follows the lives of Henry (Vincent Franklin) and his former long-term boyfriend Lance (Cyril Nri) after their break up. E4 series Banana tells standalone stories involving characters largely drawn from the younger end of the Manchester gay scene. There will also be an online factual strand called Tofu about modern gay life.
“It’s what I learned from Doctor Who when we span off Torchwood and The Sarah Jane adventures,” says Davies with a laugh. “Make hay while the sun shines.”
Davies’s first major exploration of the gay scene was his Channel 4 drama Queer as Folk, which aired in 1999 and provoked a storm of headlines about its explicit depiction of gay sex.
Cucumber promises to be similarly frank, and Davies admits that it has been easier to get these kind of scenes on air this time round.
“In 1999 there was more scrutiny. We had 27 executives with microscopes and scalpels and there was much less bother this time. It’s all very normal and all very, very fine. If anything, these days you get notes about swearing. I love characters who swear. I swear a lot and I love it.”
Nevertheless, he insists he is not seeking to cause outrage for its own sake.
“If you set out to shock you are not going to get very far. You might not believe this but making television is a really rigorous process and when you put in a sex scene you have to go through the channel, the people financing it, co-production and so on. A scene has to be really rigorous and honest.
“Television really isn’t often cheap and sensational. There’s always a point to what you are putting on screen, even if it sometimes goes astray.”