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article imageRussell T Davies cancels TV work to care for his partner

By Mathew Wace Peck     Dec 5, 2011 in Entertainment
Manchester - Television writer and producer Russell T Davies has cancelled his TV commitments to care for his partner, who is undergoing treatment following an operation for brain cancer.
In an interview with Pink News, Davies has spoken for the first time about his partner’s illness and his own decision to give up work to look after him.
Until recently, Davies had been living in Los Angeles, where he had relocated with and his long-term partner, Andrew Smith, in 2009, after stepping down as showrunner of Doctor Who and taking up a position with BBC America.
As he explained to Pink News, “There we were, living in LA and loving it. I had shows lined up and everything when Andrew started to get these headaches. We wondered if it was the change of city, the water or the fact he wasn’t working. It was getting bad so we decided he’d see a doctor when we came back [to the UK] in August for a three-week holiday. He went to the doctor, who sent him for a scan. When we got the results they told us he had cancer of the brain. They needed to operate straight away. Three days later he was having surgery.”
Davies goes on to say that Andrew is currently undergoing a 30-day treatment of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which will be followed by a further six months of chemotherapy.
He continues: “[Our lives] in LA just sort of closed down overnight. All of my stuff, my computers and clothes were over there. We had to have everything shipped over here in crates. We were lucky we never sold our house in Manchester. Lo and behold we’re now a ten minute drive from Europe’s best cancer hospital.”
Russell T Davies is one of the UK’s most sought-after writers. After several years of working on programmes as diverse as the BBC children’s magazine programme Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead? and ITV’s long-running soap opera Coronation Street, Davies had his big break with Queer As Folk, the Manchester-based drama series depicting the lives and loves of a group of gay men, which he wrote for Channel 4.
Then, in 2005, his phenomenally successful revival of the science-fiction drama series Doctor Who established him as a household name. Davies turned Doctor Who – which was already over 40 years old at the time – into what is now the BBC’s flagship drama series.
He then went on to create two Doctor Who spin-off dramas: Torchwood, starring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness; and The Sarah Jane Adventures, which starred the late Elisabeth Sladen. Both shows have become successful in their own rights.
At the time of Andrew’s diagnosis and the couple’s return to the UK, Davies was working on a new series – Cucumber – for the US cable network Showtime. Cucumber is his much-anticipated drama about, as Davies himself puts it, “the lives of gay men and their gayness”.
However, all that has been put on hold while Andrew gets better, as he explains: “I’ve stopped work. I haven’t worked since August. […] People keep asking me if I’ve really stopped working. I used to work so hard you see, they think I must be secretly working on something, but I’m not. It was a simple decision: [Andrew’s] more important. Who gives a f**k about writing scripts if I can stay at home with him and make his day a bit happier?”
That said, Davies will still be undertaking a small project for CBBC – home of The Sarah Jane Adventures. The commitment to CBBC, he says, predates Andrew’s illness and won’t take up much of his time.
Laurence Watts, who conducted the interview with Davies for Pink News, ends his piece by saying, “I’m sure I speak on behalf of many thousands when I say we wish Andrew the very best of health.” Already, many fans of Davies, and of Doctor Who, have joined added their best wishes, via Internet bulletin boards and social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
On one, Sharon wrote: “Couldn’t agree more about the priorities. I really hope Andrew makes a full recovery. I will be forever grateful to Russell for bringing back Dr Who, Torchwood and Sarah Jane, but I am so glad that he is the kind of man who will put his partner’s health before everything. Sending my very best wishes and love to both of them.”
Jools added: “I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to meet Russell in person. A more kind and gracious person I’ve yet to meet. I wish his partner and full and speedy recovery.”
The full, wide-ranging interview, together with reader’s comments and best wishes, can be read at Pink News.
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