Henry (Vincent Franklin) is forty-six, gay and seemingly happy in a relationship with Lance, his boyfriend of nine years (Cyril Nri). Or so it would seem. For after a date which culminates in an an attempted threesome ends very badly indeed, Vincent soon finds himself out on his ear: homeless, jobless and strongly drawn to a much younger man, the beautiful but arrogant Freddie (Freddie Fox). But with Lance increasingly drawn to the unpredictable and volatile Daniel (James Murray), can the two men survive in the heady atmosphere of the 21st century Manchester gay scene?
With a huge cast of characters, none better than veteran actor Franklin who excels as the increasingly troubled Henry, Cucumber in many ways feels like a return home to Queer As Folk territory for creator Russell T. Davies after his many successful years resurrecting Doctor Who. At times, yes, it might seem silly: the titles of this Cucumber and its two spin off series Banana (which is included here having originally been screened straight after Cucumber’s Channel 4 broadcast on E4) and the internet-based Tofu, all apparently refer to different stages of the male erection. At times, Henry’s obsessions with perving over young men’s bums in supermarkets might seem unbecoming for a man in middle age. The final episode also ends very abruptly, surprisingly so, after everything we’ve been through with the characters.
But don’t be fooled. Episode 6 of this eight part series is a masterpiece, as good as anything on British TV this decade so far. Cleverly linked with the series is Banana, a series of one-offs looking more closely at the minor characters from Cucumber. With a range of writers (Including Sue Perkins) these are less consistent in quality than Cucumber, but are all definitely worth a look (although Tofu isn’t included at all here, for some reason). But, all in all, this is a superb package, well worth taking time to cast your eyes over.
Cucumber & Banana
Release: March 16th 2015