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Queer as Who

Doctor Who connections in Queer as Folk

By Nigel Windsor

There is an old Lancashire saying, “There's nowt as queer as folk”. The word “nowt” is a northern dialect word meaning ‘nothing’; thus the phrase means “There's nothing as strange as people”.

Queer as Folk is of course the title of a drama series produced for the UK's Channel 4, created, written and co-produced by Russell T. Davies, best known to Doctor Who readers as the author of the 1996 New Adventures novel Damaged Goods. Davies is primarily a television writer whose credits include ITV's period hotel drama The Grand, and two telefantasy series Dark Season and Century Falls. Last year, Davies was asked by the BBC to develop a proposal for a television revival of Doctor Who.

Davies' script editor on Queer as Folk is Matthew Jones, a former Doctor Who Magazine columnist and author of the New Adventures novels Bad Therapy and Beyond the Sun.

Queer as Folk follows the lives of three gay men, centered around Canal Street, the gay night spot area of the industrial northern English town of Manchester. The three main characters are Stuart (played by Aiden Gillen), who describes his character as “a very confident, slightly enigmatic, sexy guy”; Nathan (Charlie Hunnam) who describes his character as “a 15 year old lad who starts off quite shy and not very confident at all, a bit mixed up. Throughout the eight programmes he progresses into quite a manipulating, and much more confident and cultivated kind of gay lad on the Manchester scene”; and Vince (Craig Kelly), Stuart's best friend since they were both 14 years old.

So what may you ask has all this got to do with Doctor Who? Vince just happens to be a Doctor Who fan. For this reason Queer as Folk features many references to Doctor Who in the dialogue (a pivotal moment of the series rests entirely on a character's ability to recite the names of all the actors to have played the Doctor, for instance). There are also clips from two Doctor Who stories, watched by Vince.

However by far the most enjoyable scene is Vince's thirtieth birthday party where Stuart presents him with a full size K9, complete with remote control, which is shown in full motion happily moving around Stuart's apartment complete with functioning red eyes and extending probe.

A full list of Doctor Who references follows. The point at which each reference occurs is marked in minutes and seconds from the opening credits of each episode.

EPISODE ONE

0:23:00
Vince is in his flat alone late at night. He puts a video on, and as he goes to the couch we see a Louis Marx/Dapol Dalek toy in the fish tank. The tape starts playing - it's the start of the end credits of a Tom Baker episode. Vince rewinds the tape a few seconds to the cliffhanger - it's the end of Part One of Pyramids of Mars. Vince speaks along to the words on screen - “I bring Sutekh's gift of death to all humanity.” The credits and theme music roll once more.

EPISODE TWO

0:11:41
Vince is in a pub with some friends from work (none of whom know he's gay). Vince is at the bar with a new employee, Rosalie, who fancies him, when a man, another of Vince's workmates, approaches.
MAN: “Beam me up Scotty, Klingons on the starboard bow; that's you kind of thing innit, Vince ?”
VINCE: “Wrong programme, actually.”
MAN: “Oh, what's he called then, Stavros?” Laughs, and walks away from the bar. “Exterminate, exterminate, we will exterminate, we will destroy...”
ROSALIE: “What's that?”
VINCE, embarrassed: “Nothing, I just, sort of like science fiction stuff.”
ROSALIE: “Doctor Who?”
VINCE: “Yeah.”
ROSALIE: “I never really watched it.”
VINCE, laughs: “No.”
ROSALIE: “No, well they moved it opposite Coronation Street, I mean you've no chance, sorry!”
VINCE: “I remember that, '87 to '89. I had to tape one and watch the other...”

EPISODE THREE

0:15:02
Vince and Stuart are taking drugs in a bar toilet cubicle.
STUART: “Oh nice.”
VINCE: “It's off Mickey Blake, he can get you anything, he got me speed an' all, and he got me episode three of Planet of the Daleks in colour! The BBC's only got that in black and white 'cause they burnt it, but Mickey Blake, you just have to ask! He said he can get me episode four of The Tenth Planet - now that's a classic, no one's seen it since 1966.”
STUART: “There are no words for how sad you are.”

EPISODE FIVE

0:18:51
Vince has picked up a man in a bar and brought him back to his apartment. The man suddenly stops undressing Vince and rushes over to Vince's video collection.
MAN: “Oh my god, you've got Genesis of the Daleks!”
VINCE: “Yeah.”
MAN: “Can we watch it?”
VINCE: “Erm, we can watch it after, yeah?”
MAN: “Oh, can we watch it now? Please?”
A while later, Genesis of the Daleks is playing on Vince's television. It's the scene from the beginning of Part Four where Davros orders his Daleks to exterminate Ronson.
MAN: “...'Cause right, this is the first time Davros has ever appeared, he's manipulating the war between the Kaleds and the Thals so his own creations can survive.”
VINCE, irritated: "I know."
MAN: “'cause they were the first Daleks ever, and they weren't even called Daleks, they were called the Mark 3 Travel Machine."
VINCE: "I know. It's my tape."
MAN, excitedly clutching the videotape case: “Three more episodes!”
On the television screen, Genesis of the Daleks continues. Ronson has just been exterminated, and Davros is making a speech to the Kaled elite about the Daleks: “The supreme creature. The ultimate conqueror of the universe.”

0:21:37
The following morning in Vince's flat.
VINCE: “Right, I'm late. I'm on the midday shift.”
The man from the night before is busy sifting through Vince's video collection, and grabs a tape.
MAN: “You've got The Seeds of Death, it's a classic, I'll come round and watch it sometime. Is that alright?”
VINCE irritated: “Yeah.”
MAN, sensing Vince doesn't want to see him again: “Bye. Beware the Mentiads!”

0:29:15
Vince brings an Australian, Cameron back to his flat for the first time.
CAMERON, noticing Vince's videotapes: “Ah, Doctor Who. We used to get that, scared me as a kid. The one with the shop window dummies, oh and that one with the maggots, that was good. How many tapes have you got? You one of those anorak blokes?”
Vince lunges at Cameron and starts kissing him. They fall on the sofa scattering a stack of Doctor Who videos.
CAMERON: “Your tapes!”
VINCE: “Sod the tapes!"
They keep kissing, then Vince breaks away momentarily, suddenly concerned.
VINCE: “Which tapes?!”

EPISODE SEVEN

0:04:17
Vince's friends have thrown a thirtieth birthday party for him at Stuart's flat. Stuart and Cameron are competing for Vince's affection. Stuart tells Vince that Cameron has bought him a red Mini car for his birthday, spoiling Cameron's surprise.
VINCE: "He hasn't, he's bought me that boxed set of Trial of a Time Lord which I've already got."

RUSSELL T. DAVIES ON DOCTOR WHO

Participating in an internet chat session about Queer as Folk, Russell T. Davies made a couple of comments about the Doctor Who influences in the series.

Q: Where did you get the idea of Vince's love of Doctor Who from?
Russell T. Davies: Oh, I love Doctor Who! So it was easy, I didn't have to research anything.

Q: Where can I get a K9 from?
Russell T. Davies: It was the original K9 from the BBC! But if you look on the net - under www.thisplanetearth.co.uk - they will soon be selling models.

0:09:55
The group of partygoers return to Stuart's flat after admiring Vince's red Mini. Stuart is waiting for them, playing with a remote control device, which operates a full-size, completely authentic model of K9, trundling around the floor with lights flashing. This is Stuart's gift to Vince.
VINCE, overjoyed: “Oh my god! Where did you get it? Did you hire it or what?"
STUART, smugly: "Happy Birthday!"
VINCE: “But you got the party and everything.”
STUART: “Alright. I'll take it back. Watch this.”
Stuart makes K9 trundle over to Vince and the group of partygoers, and K9' probe extends upwards, to Vince's delight.
VINCE: “That is completely, completely fantastic.” He rushes over and embraces Stuart. “God, I'm so sad!”

0:15:53
Later in the evening, Vince and Stuart have had a falling out. The party is over. Vince and Cameron pick up the presents up and prepare to leave.
CAMERON, gesturing to K9: “What about the robot?”
VINCE: “I don't want it.”

0:19:30
Next morning, Stuart plays with K9 in his flat. K9 has party streamers draped over his head and a rubbish-filled tray on his back.

EPISODE EIGHT

0:15:26
Nathan is in Stuart's flat and sees the abandoned K9. He lifts up the dog and leaves with it.

0:16:05
Vince leaves his flat and as he walks towards his Mini he sees K9 perched on top of the car, where Nathan has left it. Vince phones Stuart.
VINCE: “I thought I'd better say thanks for K9, I mean he's great, and I know the circumstances were a little sort of... but he's great, or it's great, whatever. He - I think Tom Baker says ‘he’, so thanks."
STUART: “Anytime”

0:18:06
Stuart and Vince have met up for lunch to discuss Vince's relationship with Cameron.
STUART, talking about Cameron: “Poor sod, give him six months; he'll be able to name all the Doctor Whos in order. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy."
VINCE: “What about Paul McGann?”
VINCE & STUART in unison: “Paul McGann doesn't count!”

0:29:14
Vince realises that things are getting serious with Cameron, he is drifting further apart from Stuart. He phones Cameron on his cellphone, who is waiting at a restaurant for him. They have an argument, and it dawns on Vince that maybe Cameron isn't suitable for him after all.
VINCE: “How many Doctor Whos can you name?
CAMERON: “Excuse me?”
VINCE: “All the actors who played Doctor Who, name them.”
CAMERON: “I dunno.”
VINCE: “Just try.”
CAMERON: “Erm, well, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker...”
VINCE: “That it?”
CAMERON: “Does it matter?”
VINCE: “Any more?”
CAMERON: “The bloke with the white hair.”
VINCE: “William Hartnell. Any more?”
CAMERON: “The vet... What the hell does it matter?”
VINCE: “Sorry, what? It's breaking up. We're breaking up. Sorry.”

To capitalise on the popularity of the first series, a second series was produced as two, hour-long episodes. There are no direct references to Doctor Who, although in Episode Two Vince says, “I want to dematerialise, and step out on a different planet.”

Queer as Folk gained many positive and negative comments upon its initial screening in the UK. The series has been screened in 13 countries and has quickly gained cult following, both through the television screenings and the videotapes of Series 1 and 2. Queer as Folk has become the UK production company Channel 4's best selling video of all time.

The series was turned down for screening on Australian television (it was considered too risque), but New Zealand viewers have recently seen all eight episodes of the first series on TV4 (screened 8 March to 26 April 2000), albeit with certain sex scenes ‘trimmed’.

Personally, I loved the series. It is the programme I had always felt should have been made. Coming from Manchester, where the series is set and filmed, myself I feel a great deal of identification with the characters. The series is well written, and as Russell T Davies is himself gay it bears all the hallmarks of being written with great depth and honesty; the root of all good drama. Queer as Folk is simply a good piece of television drama which just happens to feature a group of gay people as its central theme. The Doctor Who references compliment the characterisations. It is well known that Doctor Who has a strong following amongst some gay men, and it is a nice to see a reference to this.

This item appeared in TSV 60 (June 2000).