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article image‘Banana’: Luke Newberry to star in new Russell T Davies drama

By Mathew Wace Peck     Aug 1, 2014 in Entertainment
Luke Newberry is joining to the cast of “Banana” — the brand-new gay-themed drama series from Russell T Davies for E4 — it has emerged.
In the series — which is being produced as a sister show to Channel 4’s Cucumber — Newberry will be playing a young gay man called Josh. Joining him will be newcomer Dino Fletsher as his boyfriend, Aiden.
Both pieces of casting information were hidden in a wider report on the production of Davies’s new shows. According to Gay Star News, Newberry and Fletsher will be playing central characters in Banana, but will actually make their debuts in Cucumber.
Cucumber, Banana and the online-streamed factual-based Tofu, which are interconnected and are currently being filmed alongside each other in Manchester, marks Davies’s return to working for Channel 4 after a lengthy absence.
As previously reported by Gay Star News, the choice of names of each individual series is, according to Davies, based on the different categories attributed to the male erection.
“I once read about a scientific institute which had studied the male erections,” Davies claimed. “It divided the ‘hard-on’ into four categories — from soft to hard: One, tofu. Two, peeled banana. Three, banana. And four, cucumber. Right there and then, I knew I had my drama.’
This isn’t the first time Davies has written modern dramas about the lives of gay men, the Swansea-born, Manchester-based writer and producer having, in the 1990s, created the ground-breaking gay drama series Queer as Folk for Channel 4.
Russell T Davies
Russell T Davies
Since then, he has been responsible for a number of high-profile drama, including ITV’s primetime drama Bob & Rose, The Second Coming, also for ITV and starring Christopher Eccleston in a post-Cracker role, Casanova, which starred ???? and David Tennant in the older and younger versions of the titular role, and Torchwood, the science-fiction thriller series featuring Scotland’s John Barrowman (Arrow) as Captain Jack Harkness and Wales’s Eve Mylles (Broadchurch) as Gwen Taylor.
Davies is also the person responsible for the successful high-profile return to television of Doctor Who — the BBC’s flagship science-fiction drama series now popular in countries all over the world — of which he was showrunner from 2003 to 2009.
After handing over the Doctor Who reigns to Steven Moffat in 2009/10, Davies moved to LA in America to work on projects for the fledgling drama operation at BBC America — which resulted in the fourth, and so far final, season of Torchwood being largely filmed in the United States in association with Starz.
Davies has long indicated that he wanted to return to gay-themed drama, at was understood to be working on and off on an idea revolving around older gay men, provisionally titled MGM.
At the time of his move to LA, as reported in 2012 by Deadline, he was working on a new gay drama series, now called Cucumber, for Showtime. However, that and any proposed continuing Starz association with Torchwood was put on hold when, in 2011, Davies returned to the UK to help his partner, Andrew, through treatment he was receiving for a brain cancer.
Consequently, Davies’s workload was severely reduced, although he did create a new science-fiction/magic drama series, Wizard vs Aliens, for the children’s channel CBBC. Wizard vs Aliens — soon to commence its third season on TV — was commissioned to replace another Davies creation, the immensely popular sci-fi drama series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which had ceased production following the untimely death of its star, Elisabeth Sladen.
From Roarton to Manchester
Luke Newberry, of course, is best known for playing the PDS sufferer Kieren Walker in the hit zombie-themed drama series In the Flesh, the BBC Three–BBC America co-production that recently completed a second successful season on both sides of the Atlantic.
Created and written by Dominic Mitchell, In the Flesh chronicles life in Roarton, a small English village where people with ‘partially dead syndrome’ (PDS) — that is, dead people who, having risen from their graves as zombies are now being treated so that they can resume some semblance of normal living — have been reintegrated into society. This situation leads to much friction between ‘ordinary’ people and the PDS sufferers.
Having premiered as a three-part season in early 2013, a six-part Season 2 was commissioned by the BBC almost immediately. However, since completing its run in June, fans of the series have been waiting patiently to hear whether or not a third season will follow.
Despite the critical acclaim the show has received in Britain, North America and elsewhere, and its recent triumph at the BAFTAs,
Damien Molony  Luke Newberry
Damien Molony, Luke Newberry
Twitter / Kara Manley
the future of the award-winning In the Flesh remains uncertain because its television home in the UK, BBC Three, is to be axed. In the US, In the Flesh is broadcast as part of the popular Supernatural Saturday slot on BBC America, which is also home to Doctor Who — soon to commence its first Peter Capaldi season — and Orphan Black, the science-fiction clone-themed thriller series recently renewed for a third season.
Meantime, while everyone awaits news of an In the Flesh renewal, fans of the Newberry can look forward to seeing him, not only in Banana, but also when he joins series’ regular Daniel Mahony in the second season of Suspects, the semi-improvised Channel 5 police procedural, which returns to TV sometime in the new year.
Banana, meanwhile, is set to premiere on E4 in the UK in 2015, date to be announced. Cucumber will do likewise, but on Channel 4, while Tofu, which is being produced by Benjamin Cook, will be streamed online.
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