Russell T Davies, creator of ’90s cult series Queer As Folk, has written three separate but interconnected TV series – Cucumber, Banana and Tofu – which aired on Channel 4, E4 and 4OD earlier this year. The three series are set in Manchester and follow a group of LGBTQI individuals.
Screwdriver – available online only – is a 15 minute spin-off from Cucumber and the real gem of the lot. It’s deeply concerned with the brutality of the porn industry and the early age that porn is first discovered.
Cleo, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh (the character Hayley in Coronation Street for 16 years), engages the viewer on a profound level as she talks to her 15–year–old son Adam about the horrors of the porn industry.
“We’re missing the fact that a tidal wave of porn is flooding into our children’s lives”, says Cleo.
Hesmondhalgh’s passion and ability to engage with the audience really comes through as her character explains how far she’s willing to go to stop “our children” viewing inhumane and hardcore porn: “If I have to become that militant, Tory, right-wing censor then that’s what I’ll do,” she says.
It’s a view that would scare off any leftie Guardian reader – champions of free speech and an uncensored internet.
Cleo’s outbursts – “explicit, hardcore, non-stop porn, streaming 24 hours a day. It is ferocious. And we’re so pathetic. We don’t do anything” – conjure up such a feeling of energy rooted within the viewer to stop the madness and go to war with the side of the internet which has the potential to innately damage and pollute children’s minds.
Sitting across from her son Adam in a spacious and quiet pub, the boy however rightly points out that it’s not the internet that should be blamed – “the internet isn’t defined by sex”.
But there is a horrendous side to it, a dark side which has been created by sick people so bored of their own existence that they have to take everything to the next level. So bored that they have to “insert a screwdriver down the length of their penis,” Cleo graphically explains.
Sexual intercourse between human beings just isn’t enough any more. But where does it stop? Humans and animals have lost their lives in horrific and inhumane sex scenes – from dangerous attempts to take it to that next level, to suicides. This is not what we want. We don’t want to be shocked stiff and become desensitised to sex acts which, for our our own safety and the safety of our children, we should be alarmed, shaken and outraged by.
Screwdriver highlights the problem with watching these horrific and tragic acts so young. They burn through our eyes and into our minds forever, memories that are hard to erase. The streaming of dangerous and illegal porn at a very young age is such a current and immediate issue, and it should be treated as nothing less. The realisation induced by the 15 minute episode Screwdriver is a triumph for both Julie Hesmondhalgh and Russell T Davies.
Watch Screwdriver online now and the season finale of Cucumber airs on Channel 4 March 12 at 9pm and Banana on E4 March 12 at 10pm.