Screenplay by Russell T. Davies.
I’m such a whore. I’ll watch anything if Russell T. Davies has written it. But then, he is the person who inspired me to be a writer.
And here it is! The new RTD drama about gay life in Manchester, and one of two interconnected shows existing together in the Doctor Who universe. Believe it or not, Cucumber and Banana exist in the world of that other show Davies once ran. First, H.C. Clements makes an appearance, as does Anjli Mohindra as a character named Veronica Chandra. Also, Henry’s boyfriend is named Lance. So there’s that. But, my inner fanboy will be restrained, so I can just focus entirely on Cucumber.
Cucumber‘s the first Davies show I’ve seen outside of the Other Thing, so it was interesting to see if he could keep-up his consistency, and this show proves that he’s a fearless writer. The opening montage shows exactly what sort of writer he is, and introduces us to the element of the show: the scale of penile erection. Tofu, to peeled banana, to banana, to the full-on cucumber. That’s just how intimate this show is, and it reaffirms the paradigm of his dramas: provided you watch and are committed, he’ll give you everything, without holding back. So the level of intensity with his characters is his contract with the audience: he trusts that you’re able to take it. And this blogger can. In fact, I’d say it’s just what I’ve been waiting for!
The other inspiration behind the Banana and Cucumber Universe is Davies’ previous drama, the extremely controversial Queer as Folk, which showed a pre-millennial audience that gay people do exist and they’re doing it hard. But we’ve all grown-up a bit since then, and the show’s like a spiritual successor to that, with the survivors of the previous regime now being middle-aged and alienated by the much larger, more promiscuous wave of young gays that seem to swarm everywhere thanks to breakthroughs like grindr. There’s even a moment where Henry uses the word “hashtag” to express himself, which Dean says is “a bit BBC Three”. Excellent dig there, Russell. More please.
Really, the great thing about Russell T. Davies is his ability to make anything he writes appealing to anyone. Cucumber might be about a middle-aged man, but most of the people he encounters are far younger, and at no point did I find this first episode unappealing because of it. Personally, I just can’t wait for Luke Newberry’s appearance.
Cucumber: episode 1 – wonderfully uninhibited, intimate and accurate. 8/10