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On This Gay Day: Queer as Folk made its debut on British television

In 1999 the original British version of Queer as Folk aired for the first time causing controversy in its wake.

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The landmark series shocked some audiences when it was first screened for it’s graphic depictions of gay sex, underage sexual activity, gay clubbing nightlife and rainbow families. For the LGBTIQ+ communities we cherished a series that showed our lives.

Starring Charlie Hunnam, Aidan Gillen and Craig Kelly, the eight part series introduced to Natham, Stuart and Vince. A second series screened in 2000, and in the same year the US based series also premiered.

The series didn’t get an Australian screening and copies of the series on VHS and DVD passed from friend to friend throughout the local LGBTIQ+ community. The series has criticised for it’s lack of sexual and racial diversity – but at the time it was considered to be groundbreaking.

Russell T Davies, who created the show has gone on to deliver some of the UK’s most loved TV series including Bob and Rose, The Second Coming, Casanova, Doctor Who, A Very English Scandal, Years and Years and the acclaimed It’s a Sin.

His greatest achievement however has been the recent series It’s a Sin which has enjoyed huge audiences and acclaim. It’s currently available on Australian streaming service STAN.

Davies revisited the universe of Queer as Folk with his UK trilogy series CucumberBanana and Tofu. The 2015 series followed the adventures of a group of men in their 40s, and their interactions with younger queer people in their 20s.

The companion series Banana followed the lives of the younger characters in more depth. The two series were screened simultaneously, with the web based documentary series Tofu exploring themes within the episodes.

While Aidan Gillen and Charlie Hunnam have gone on to have huge international careers, Craig Kelly hasn’t been seen on our screens for a few years.

Gillen has appeared in The Wire, Peaky Blinders, Maze Runner, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Dark Knight Rises, but his most famous role is as Petyr ‘Little Finger’ Baylish in Game of Thrones.

Hunnam morphed into the muscular leading man of TV series Sons of Anarchy and appeared in films including Cold Mountain, Pacific Rim, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and The Gentlemen. 

The US version of the show ran for five seasons and in 2022 a new version set in New Orleans made it’s debut, sadly it was cancelled after just one season.

OIP Staff, This post was first published in 2021.  


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