Cucumber, banana and tofu are the stages of male sexual arousal, and the first in a new series from Russell T Davies
This first entry in the series, and the trilogy, concentrated on Henry (Vincent Franklin) and Lance (Cyril Nri), a couple who have been together for 9 years but for whom all is not well. Lance wants to get married while the thought of commitment frightens Henry. They go through the processes of what would happen if you cheat on your partner, as well as each watching porn separately rather than be together… although couldn’t that also apply to straight couples as well? Yes, is the answer.
The Russell T Davies fantasy world sees the first episode focusing mainly on Henry, with the couple going into fancy bars where one of their friends is scared because his “spunk” is curdled and yellow. There’s also Henry being drawn instantly to who are clearly the only other customers in a supermarket, as he notices them feel the *thwack* of a firm banana or cucumber in their hand. His young colleague Dean (Fisayo Akinade) is wearing a special chastity belt, apparently put on by a particular man in town who forces you to wear it for two weeks, and he’s ‘locked up’ over 50 men into this situation. Dean’s happy to show it off to anyone who’ll ask – or just take his pants down anyway. He lives with Freddie (Freddie Fox), who is bi, also works in Henry’s canteen, and it seems Freddie and Dean just had sex for something to do.
The episode also brought into play one’s desire for having a good time never dying as you get older, it just lies in wait to strike again; there’s obessessing over Ryan Reynolds, and also the embarrassment of neighbours telling you they can see you as you masturbate through the thin curtains… and so can their children! The children!! Will someone please think of the children!!
Alas, Davies also throws in lazy assumptions like all gay men get a black cab into Manchester town centre, all gay men listen to Kylie, and in fact, every single man in the town is gay! I’m straight, so perhaps I’m not the best person to try and counter these assumptions, but in the Russell T Davies fantasy world, if you’re straight, you’re just a gay man waiting to come out! That was certainly an element of Queer as Folk, which I really enjoyed back in the day, but Cucumber just feels like a load of self-indulgent tosh.
Oh, and Cucumber also proferred one very unrealistic ideal as fact: Cyril Nri was served a pint in a nightclub in a PROPER GLASS! That NEVER happens!
I get the impression that each episode will each focus more on different characters, hence why, here, we only saw a brief glimpse for Julie Hesmondhalgh as Cleo, Henry’s sister, Hesmondhalgh being best known to TV views as the late Hayley Cropper from Coronation Street, the first transgender character in a British soap opera.
Go to page 2 for a look at Banana and Tofu.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.