Revealed: Russell's inspiration

I read a newspaper interview with one of my favourite TV writers Russell T Davies in which he gave exclusive details on a new show he's planning ...

He's best-known as executive producer of Doctor Who but back in the mid-1990s he also brought us the groundbreaking gay drama Queer As Folk.

Now it seems he's bored of daleks and time travel - he's developing a BBC drama series about fortysomething gay men.

The corporation has confirmed he is indeed working on script ideas for the project he'll oversee when he takes a break from Doctor Who in 2009.

"It's going to be about fortysomething gay men and how jealous they are of gay teenagers," Russell said in an interview with the Guardian. "I've been longing to write something for adults."

In the interview, Russell said that the inspiration for the new drama is a friend, a former Mr Gay UK, who split up from his boyfriend.

"He asked me: 'Why are so many gay men so glad we split up?' That remark's stayed with me for six years. I think there's a self-punishing streak in that gladness and I want to explore it."

I thought, I bet I know which former Mr Gay UK he's talking about. So I put in a call to Carl Austin who won the competition I organise in 2001. Carl was great, full of life and a real role model.

He'd been kicked out of the RAF for being gay before homosexuality was tolerated in the armed forces and now he's very successful and runs a promotions company in his native Manchester, called Oz.

"Do you know Russell T Davies?" I asked him. "Oh yes, very well," said Carl. He's been a house guest of Russell, a fellow Mancunian, at his home in Cardiff where he does all his Doctor Who writing.

"Have you ever talked about relationships with him?" I asked, every bit the inquisitive journalist. "Yes I think so - but not for ages."

Well, whether he likes it or not he'll soon be seeing himself dramatised - or at least an element of him! I for one can't wait to tune in.

Russell is a real engima, I've met him a couple of times at parties. He's always pleasant and polite but he's perpetually aloof as if lost in deep thought. It seems he's always first - or among the first - to leave a party.

It's all part of his mystery, is he going on somewhere more interesting? Or is he racing home to tap out more magical stuff on his laptop? We don't know ...

If the whole gay jealousy theme does see the light of day, it'll be interesting because it's a definite phenomenon. Not just jealousy from other homosexuals but odd reactions from your straight friends and associates too.

I reckon plenty of people who don't think of themselves as homophobic don't see two men as having a "real" life partnership, and are sort of relieved when you split up because it confirms that it wasn't a "proper" relationship. Does that sound like you? I hope not!

Doctor Who has loads of gay fans - a guy I know has a lifesize dalek in his living room - so they'll be gutted with the news that Russell T doesn't intend to carry on with it forever.

"I wouldn't want to do series seven," he told the Observer in March. "There are other things I want to do."

Not that this bothers me, I've never been remotely interested by the Tardis, or cybermen or even cute little K-9. A big gay drama is infinitely more likely to get me to settle in front of the TV.

Examiner leads the way

Ever wondered where the tabloids get all their gossip from? Well the Daily Star nicks its news from the Examiner!

Remember the column a couple of weeks ago in which I talked about prospective princess Chelsy Davy being spotted in my Leeds nightclub, Mission?

Well, the story appeared in the Daily Star a few days later - and they must have been confident that the Examiner had its facts right as no-one asked me to tell the tale first-hand. Don't forget where you read it first!

Are bonfires endangered?

Make the most of your local bonfire this year - I reckon they'll soon be on the way out. Well, they're totally un-environmental, aren't they?

I've been feeling really guilty as we've built up ours at home, using old pallets that really could and should be recycled.

Someone told me they're actually already banned in Australia - so that lovely ritual of burning a guy while you and your mates stand around in the fireglow, scoffing bonfire toffee and parkin, could be a distant memory in a few years.

Essence of Petula

One of the very best shows I've been to see recently was Petula Clark at the Grand Theatre, Leeds. Her voice was so beautiful and her accompanying orchestra sounded fantastic.

You could hear a pin drop as she recounted fascinating stories of her life, like the time she was full of butterfies before dancing with Fred Astaire - who, it turned out, had been equally on tenterhooks about the prospect of partnering Petula.

I met her once at gay pride in Brighton, I know how Fred felt as I too was shaking with nerves before I said hello. She never asked me for a dance, though!