Talking Bananas: Lee Warburton & Dino Fetscher

Writer Lee Warburton and actor Dino Fetscher (pictured above) discuss Queer as Folk and the importance of physical appearance ahead of the seventh episode of Banana, which airs 5 March, 10pm, E4.

Where did the inspiration for this episode of Banana come from?

Lee: It is actually based on a true story of a past I no longer live. It was about the next day after a wild night when I found myself with someone I wouldn’t normally find myself with – and trying to ditch them. Through the course of that day, I started to find out about the person, and fall for them. It’s about the idea that we can lock ourselves into certain perceptions that can then be challenged. We all stay in our different cliques, not just in the gay scene, but in general. When you are forced to be with someone, it can change your expectations. That was kind of the starting point for the episode.

And Dino have you had any similar sort of personal experiences?

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Dino: No, I don’t think I have ever found myself in a situation particular to our episode, but what is great about the episode is the themes that it explores are so relatable. Everyone has felt rejection and the fear of jumping in – the fear of getting hurt.

How has it been working with Russell T Davies on the creative side of the series?

Lee: I was in Queer as Folk, and worked with Nicola [Shindler] and Russell all those years ago on a small part, and I did all the sex sounds – that’s my claim to fame! [Laughs] Ever since that point I just wanted to work with Nicola and Russell again. I’m quite a new writer and he’s just incredible – as generous as he is, Russell is also challenging and scary because he’s the best. It’s an absolute dream come true and I bet everyone says that! It’s like walking into a top hairdresser and going, do what you want…

Lee in his early days - on Coronation Street.
Lee in his early days – on Coronation Street.

Tell me about your experience on set, Dino…

Dino: It’s my first big TV role after graduating from drama school last year so I was absolutely thrilled to get the opportunity to work with Russell. From the first read-through and meeting with everyone, I had an immediate sense of this is going to be good. There was a sense of family too. In our episode there are lots of scenes that are pretty naked [Laughs]. When we started filming, it was a lot less scary than I thought. We had Emily Feller (Producer) and Luke Snellin (Director) who were just so amazing – and I was able to put all my trust in them. Doing the sex scenes, I felt like I was in really safe hands and it was fun – but it’s not sexy at all! It’s really technical but choreographed in a way that it looks really alive. It was a really great experience. I feel I have been lucky to have been able to work on this on my first job.

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Do you think that the importance placed on appearance is particular to the gay community or is across the board?

Dino: I think it’s totally universal. It’s naive to say it’s not important. Of course, a sense of humour and personality adds to that as an element of attraction. I do think the gay community puts a massive emphasis on body and appearance – too much, I think. But there is a lot of truth in Lee’s writing that without an element of physical attraction it can’t work, I think personally.

Lee: We are hard-wired to find people attractive and to deny it is stupid. It shouldn’t matter but it does. Banana is about what is, not what the dream is. I love the idea that we find people who get over it, and hopefully there are lots of people who do, but I don’t think it is the norm. Frank (Alex Frost) is worse as he isn’t honest about it, and he blackmails Aiden into feeling bad for not fancying him. But he has exactly the same morals when it comes to someone attractive approaching him. I think it’s true, but not fair. What is different to Queer as Folk is that we aren’t holding up a mirror to just the gay community, but everyone.

How do you hope the audience will respond to your episode?

Dino: From an acting perspective, what I love about the character is when you first meet him he is very confident. He looks like he can take over the world and he doesn’t really give a shit, but as it goes on he has a really big heart. It’s not about him saying, ‘I’m hot, and you’re not.’ He’s honest. He tries it but going back to what Lee said, he can’t deny his hardwiring that he doesn’t fancy this guy despite getting on so well. I think it’s admirable that he is saving him the pain in the long run.

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Lee: For me, there are two big themes. The first being about attractiveness, but I think Dino’s speech about not wanting to be with someone full-time is a big theme for me as well. As gay people, we are now used to breaking the rules, and making our own up – that’s what I think gay writing is about. Since we have broken all the rules on how to behave, how do we behave now? How do we negotiate these freedoms now that we have them? I think the one thing that Russell and I were trying to give – despite the bleak ending – was a sense of hope.

Tomorrow we have part two of our conversation with Dino.