Created by Russell T Davies, the ground-breaking series followed the lives of three gay men living in and around Canal Street and Manchester’s gay village.
Aidan Gillen played Stuart, a successful and sexually confident PR executive, while Craig Kelly co-starred as his best friend Vince, a supermarket manager whose romantic hang-ups were rather less well-hidden.
Rounding off the trio was Charlie Hunnam as Nathan, a 15-year-old getting to grips with his sexuality who is picked up by Stuart in the first episode. Their subsequent gay sex scene, explicit for the time and still steamy now, would prompt 136 complaints to Ofcom and has gone down in TV legend.
Perhaps adding to the controversy, Channel 4 aired the opening episode of Queer As Folk on the day the House of Lords was discussing the Sexual Offences Bill 1999 – a piece of legislation which would eventually reduce the age of consent for gay couples to 16.
The show originally ran for eight episodes between February and April 1999, before returning for a two-part second series in February 2000. Other actors who appeared in the series included future Coronation Street star Antony Cotton, who played the extravagant Alexander, and Denise Black, who provided comic relief as Vince’s mother Hazel.
The show spawned a US remake set in Pittsburgh, which initially followed the plotlines of the British original before devising its own story arcs, including ones touching on HIV and gay marriage, over its five-season run.
Russell T Davies would go on to spearhead the 2005 revival of Doctor Who, serving as the sci-fi series’ executive producer until 2010. He is currently working on two new series for Channel 4 examining “the passions and pitfalls of 21st century gay life”.
Channel 4 drama Cucumber will follow 46-year-old Henry and his boyfriend as they deal with the aftermath of a disastrous date night, while the E4 sister series Banana will track the lives of Cucumber‘s younger characters in more detail.
When the shows were announced last November, Davies insisted he is ”not reviving Queer as Folk, much as I loved it”.