Often described as a genius, Russell T. Davies is one of the leading British television writers of his generation, who specializes in emotional dramas, frequently with gay and sex-related adult themes. He was born in Swansea, Wales (UK) in 1963. After initially taking a BBC Television director’s course in the 1980s, he briefly moved in front of the cameras to present a single episode of the BBC’s version of Play School (1964) in 1987, before deciding that his abilities lay in production rather than presenting.
Working for the children’s department at BBC Manchester, from 1988 to 1992 he was the producer of summertime activity show Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead? (1973) which ironically showcased various things children could be doing rather than sitting at home watching the television. While serving as the producer of “Why Don’t You?” he also made his first forays into writing for television, creating a children’s sketch show for early Saturday mornings on BBC One called Breakfast Serials (1990).
In 1991, he wrote his first television drama, a six-part serial for children entitled Dark Season (1991) for BBC One, which effectively comprised of two different three-part stories based around a science-fiction / adventure theme. The production was very low budget but nevertheless successful, and noteworthy for showcasing the acting talents of a young Kate Winslet. Two years later he wrote another equally well-received science-fiction drama in the same vein, entitled Century Falls (1993).
In 1992, he moved to Granada Television, producing and writing for their successful children’s hospital drama Children’s Ward (1989). One of the episodes Davies wrote for this series won a BAFTA Children’s Award for Best Drama in 1996. At Granada he also began to break into working for adult television, contributing an episode to the ITV crime quiz show Cluedo (1990), a programme based on the popular board game of the same name, in 1993, and also working on the daytime soap opera Families (1990). He continued working on “Children’s Ward” until 1995, by which time he was already consolidating his position outside of children’s programming with the comedy The House of Windsor (1994) and camp soap opera Revelations (1994).
After a brief stint as a storyliner on ITV’s flagship soap opera Coronation Street (1960) (for which he later wrote the straight-to-video spin-off Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas! (1997)) and contributions to Channel 4’s Springhill (1996), the following year he wrote and created the hotel-set mainstream period drama The Grand (1997) for prime time ITV, winning a reputation for good writing and high audience figures. He contributed to the first series of the acclaimed ITV drama Touching Evil (1997), before beginning his fruitful collaboration with the independent Red Productions company.
His first series for Red was the ground-breaking adult gay drama Queer as Folk (1999), which caused much comment and drew much praise when screened on Channel 4 in early 1999. A sequel followed in 2000 and a US version, which still runs successfully in that country to this day, was commissioned by the Showtime cable network there. In 2001 he followed this up with another popular mini-series with a gay theme for Red, Bob & Rose (2001), this time screened on the mainstream ITV channel in prime time. After writing an episode for a Red series he had not created, Linda Green (2001) (shown on BBC1) in early 2003 he wrote the religious telefantasy drama The Second Coming (2003) starring Christopher Eccleston, which cemented his position as one of the UK’s foremost writers of TV drama.
His other work includes another Red mini series for ITV, Mine All Mine (2004), a series about the life of Casanova (2005) which made a star of David Tennant and the screenplay for a film version of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (1998) cheating scandal. Most famously, he is the chief writer and executive producer of the BBC’s big budget revival of Doctor Who (2005), as well as the spin-offs Torchwood (2006), The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007) and Wizards vs. Aliens (2012). He subsequently created more gay drama with Cucumber (2015) and the sex-themed documentary series Tofu (2015). He has also written A Very English Scandal (2018), which stars the legendary Hugh Grant as gay Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe, whose political career was destroyed by conspiracy to murder allegations.
Outside of television and film, his prose work has included the novelization of Dark Season (1991) and an original “Doctor Who” novel, “Damaged Goods”, for Virgin Publishing in 1996.
He lives in Manchester, UK.
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