That's All, Folk

Article excerpt

Russell T. Davies's gay series Queer as Folk took British TV by storm. But the show is still MIA in the United States, and the spin-off never happened. Is it curtains for Stu and Nathan?

If you're wondering why Queer as Folk--the groundbreaking British TV drama--still hasn't been broadcast anywhere in the United States even as its sequel heads to video in the United Kingdom, join the club. That's exactly what the show's creator, Russell T. Davies, is wondering as well.

"I'm not supposed to talk about this, but I don't care," says the 36-year-old writer, who set the series in his current hometown, Manchester, England, but is now sitting at Balans restaurant in London. He pauses for a moment, thinking, and then rushes ahead. "No, I really don't care. The moment it came out it was optioned by an American gay channel that hasn't launched yet called C1TV.

"Showtime's got the right to make a new [American version], and I hear that they're going to start filming this summer," Davies continues. "But the rights to show the original were bought by this group in Miami, and it cannot be released on video or DVD in the States until [C1TV has broadcast it]."

"You can certainly run that quote," C1TV managing partner Darren Mankovich says of Davies's rant, "but I can't confirm or deny anything [about the Queer as Folk deal]." According to Mankovich, the Miami-based C1TV is a start-up network that plans to offer programming via "multiple distribution strategies for cable and satellite," although no firm outlets have yet been announced. So when and where Queer as Folk might surface on U.S. television or video remains hazy. "That's driving everyone crazy," says Davies. "Strangely enough, and by complete accident, I think that's one of the things that's making it even more of a cult."

The original eight-episode miniseries from 1999 is far from just a cult in the United Kingdom. It was Channel Four's second-highest-rated series (behind E.R.), the video release was the channel's best-selling video ever, and there are two separate U.K. sound track albums. But the massive attention the first episodes garnered meant that the sequel--two one-hour episodes that aired on Channel Four in February a week apart--would almost inevitably disappoint.

"So many people hated it," says Davies, talking about the show's most dedicated U.K. fans. "We got letters in the office saying, `His hair has changed.' They were too close to it."

Critical reaction, however, "was staggeringly better," says Davies, who's as unassuming as a 6-foot 6-inch Welshman can be. He talks just as enthusiastically about his early work in children's TV (a series about computer geeks starring a 16-year-old Kate Winslet) and the notoriously bad soap Revelations. …