Happy Pride Month! This week I’m looking at the career of screenwriter Russell T. Davies. With shows like Queer as Folk and Years and Years under his name, it’s been a pretty legendary one at that.
My first ‘introduction’ to Davies was obviously the Doctor Who revival way back in 2005. I’ve been watching the show for as long as I can remember (and yes, a lot of it was watched behind a cushion because I was afraid of the cybermen), but it wasn’t until much later that I realised he was the man behind it all. The executive producer, show-runner and head writer of the most iconic sci-fi series of all time, who eventually tied nicely into his work as creator and executive producer of the spin-off series Torchwood (2006-2011), alongside being the creator and executive producer in kids spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-2011).
Whilst ‘classic’ Who was pretty conservative – few relationships were really explored, Davies paved the way for more LGBTQ+ representation; Captain Jack Harkness is bisexual in both the episodes of Doctor Who he featured in, and Torchwood, obviously. According to Digital Spy, it was also planned for Sarah’s son in The Sarah Jane Adventures, Luke, to come out as gay if the series had continued to run. Whilst Davies didn’t work on season ten of Doctor Who, it did introduce Bill Potts, who had a female love interest right from the start in the very first episode.
His creation of Queer as Folk was also another landmark in his career. It followed the lives of three gay men living in Manchester, and whilst there might be some more controversial moments watching it in 2020 (the lack of racial diversity, for example), the commission of the show by Channel 4 was a good start in representation of LGBTQ+ relationships in 1999. I’d strongly recommend reading this article by The Independent if you want to find out more about the history of the show.
“I think television — full-stop — should be diverse, no matter what I’ve been writing.”
Most recently, Years and Years has landed on television screens with roaring success, from both audiences and critics alike. An eerie, Black Mirror-esque, dystopian style show, it explored what our lives might look like not long from now. In an interview with The Verge, Davies said; “I wanted the diverse family. I mean, I think television — full-stop — should be diverse, no matter what I’ve been writing.” Diversity continues to be so important in the content we consume; whether it’s film, television, books or music, and I think Davies will continue to champion that for a long time.
Featured image: Russell T. Davies, @DoctorWho_BBCA on Twitter. Pride flag, Wallpaperflare. Logo, wikimedia commons. Love sign, public domain images. Banner, Ted Eytan on Flickr.
Last modified: 5th June 2020