“ Genre: Television - Queer as Folk / Theatrical Release: 1999 / Director: Charles McDougall, Sarah Harding / Actors: Aidan Gillen, Craig Kelly ... / DVD released 14 August, 2006 at Channel 4 DVD / Features of the DVD: Collector's Edition, PAL „
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Vince is in unrequited love with his best friend Stuart. Knowing this full well, Stuart keeps Vince round as his faithful companion and as a back-up for when he's old and past it. Unable to get past his passion for Stu, Vince struggles to form romantic relationships with other men and even casual sex never seems to go right. Stuart however is hot, rich and cocky and happy to shag his way round the gay scene in Manchester. It all changes though when he meets Nathan, a fifteen year old schoolboy just about to come bursting out of the closet, whom he seduces then spurns. But Nathan doesn't go away quite that easily and becomes a regular in Vince and Stuart's lives. Back in its day Queer As Folk was the most controversial programme on telly. Never before had such graphic gay sex scenes been witnessed as well as depictions of drug-taking (and its sometimes tragic consequences), but it is all to demonstrate the realities of some aspects of the gay lifestyle. The characters are all really fun and colourful, the cast is really superb (with the exception of Charlie Hunnam who plays Nathan - I find the actor irritating and his character implausible and can't help feeling that the series would've been better without him) and it's really a bit of an education. I believe that this series tried to take the fear away from the unknown by demonstrating to the general public that gay people are just people - they have highs and lows, commitments and fall-outs like everybody else. Really, the fact that the main characters are all gay is actually incidental to what is a really fun and vibrant series.
My husband and I have just finished watching another DVD boxset. This time, it was the Definitive Collector's Edition of Queer as Folk. I received this for Christmas, but it is currently being sold by Amazon UK for only £13.97 and is well worth the money, as you get a lot for that. The boxset consists of - QUEER AS FOLK - the entire first UK series, which is eight episodes QUEER AS FOLK 2 - the two episodes which made up the second series plus over two hours of extras, which include extended and deleted scenes, trailers, commentaries, documentaries and various interviews. (More on these later.) There's also a 32-page booklet written by Russell T Davies. Yes, the man who brought Doctor Who back to the BBC in 2005! He also wrote Queer as Folk, back in 1999. THE SERIES Queer as Folk is set in Manchester and follows the lives of three gay men - Vince, Stuart and Nathan. Vince (Craig Kelly) is twenty-nine, an Assistant Manager in a supermarket and a rather nice bloke. He is sweet, caring, loves his mum and has been in love with his best friend Stuart for years. Stuart (Aiden Gillen), however, is not so sweet. He is selfish, manipulative and sleeps his way round the handsome men in the gay clubs of Canal Street. He is the same age as Vince, he's Irish, has a high-flying job, lots of money and a gorgeous bachelor pad. He can be incredibly sexy and can usually pull a man with one look! Nathan (played by the stunningly gorgeous Charlie Hunnam) is just fifteen and a newcomer to the gay scene. He is at school, lives with his parents and sister and is initially shy and frightened about his first outing (pun intended) in Canal Street. He soon meets up with Vince and Stuart and his first sexual encounter is with lothario Stuart. These three are joined by friends, work colleagues and family, to make up a little community we come to know and love through this drama series. The excellent cast also includes Denise Black as Vince's eccentric and flamboyant mother Hazel and a thin-looking Antony Cotton as Alexander. The series is an excellent mixture of drama and comedy, with many excellent lines and laugh-out-loud moments, but plenty to think about too. We have the problem of coming out to your family, the dangers of the club scene, underage sex, unrequited love and the use of sex as a commodity. Queer as Folk caused a whole heap of controversy when it first came out a decade ago. Nowadays, thankfully, society is much better at dealing with gay characters on TV and in real life. We have a long-term gay character in Coronation Street (Antony Cotton again!) and gay weddings (civil partnerships) are legal, popular and celebrated. It still has to be said though that Queer as Folk has an 18 rating for a very good reason! As well as a large amount of swearing, there is a lot of gay sex on scene and although tastefully shot, it is still quite explicit at times and may not be everyone's choice of evening viewing. Hubby and I really enjoyed it though and so did my eighteen-year-old daughter. It has such charm and warmth about it and it takes only a few minutes before you are completely caught up in the story. The script and acting are both excellent, with the three leading actors giving superb performances in characters you will soon love, despite their faults. Both series are beautifully done and the whole thing is shot against a backdrop of bright colours, lights and loud dance music, which adds a great atmosphere to it. We ended up watching two or three episodes a night and really enjoyed each one. Highly recommended. THE EXTRAS Extended and Deleted Scenes (with commentaries) We watched these with the commentaries on, which made them much more interesting, as you found out which bits were cut or changed and why. The wonderfully enthusiastic Russell T Davies is accompanied here by the producer Nicola Shindler and they have a very good rapport and are great to listen to. Behind the Scenes This is a documentary from the time, taken from another television programme, where various stars and Russell T Davies are interviewed and you can watch some of the filming. This is reasonably short, but interesting and well worth a watch. Right to Reply This is the section of the Right to Reply show where they debated the controversy around Queer as Folk, after the showing of the first episode. Here we get to meet a gay man arguing the show didn't reflect his experiences, as though that meant it shouldn't be shown. (I've never danced with a lion, a scarecrow and a tin man, but I still enjoy The Wizard of Oz!) There's also a woman from Stonewall and the two of them manage to criticise Queer as Folk, without needing to rely on 'Annoyed Straight Middle Class Person from the Home Counties.' Oh dear. Still, it'll get you shouting at the TV screen and if your house is anything like ours, you'll end up having your own debate. T4 interview Here you get to see a younger, thinner Dermot O'Leary mentioning his girlfriends, just in case you think he might be gay! He interviews Craig Kelly and Charlie (Did I mention he's gorgeous?) Hunnam. It's a bit predictable, but the actors come across well and both seem like great blokes. Which is more than can be said for Dermot. What the Folk documentary This is a long, official behind-the-scenes documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew and also worth watching. You get to see the locations used and meet some of the men who actually go to Canal Street. There's also an interview with Joel Schumacher who was responsible for the American version that followed. If that's not enough to tempt you, there are also... Commentaries from Aiden Gillen, Craig Kelly, Denise Black, Russell T Davies, Nicola Shindler and Antony Cotton. Plus trailers, teasers, still galleries, video montages of the main characters, biographies and quotes. Phew!