Author: Steph iamtheenemy
Fandom: Queer as Folk UK
Pairing: Stuart Alan Jones/Vince Tyler
E-mail: xmsnbufgal at aol dot com
Spoilers: Both series as well as some deleted scenes and audio commentary
Notes: Thanks goes to storydivagirl and aukestrel for the betas. Also, the StuartnVince Yahoo group and QAFLovers Smartgroup, and all the people there that helped me with suggestions, quotes, screen caps and general encouragement. Particularly, xof1013, wannabebrit, Val (for the amazing caps), Margo, Lisa, Paula and anyone I'm forgetting.
Queer as Folk UK is the brainchild of Russell T. Davies, and premiered amid much controversy and curiosity on Channel Four in 1999. It centers around three gay men living in and around Canal Street, Manchester's homosexual Mecca. The primary focus of the show is on the evolution of the lifelong friendship between two men, Stuart Alan Jones and Vince Tyler (played by Aidan Gillen and Craig Kelly, respectively).
I started out watching Queer as Folk UK when I learned that in it, the Brian/Michael relationship of the US version was the central focus. I only watched Queer as Folk US for Brian and Michael, so finding this out made me very happy. I jumped on Amazon.com and picked up the first eight episodes, and I was blown away. The first episode cemented my love for Stuart/Vince, and every subsequent viewing of the show (only ten forty-minute episodes long, very doable in one day) leaves me feeling satisfied and happy like not much else out there.
Be aware that I plan to quote the show a lot, because this is the kind of show that has to be quoted.
Vince Tyler (Craig Kelly)
"He's trying to make sense of it, poor sod. But if you want it to make sense, you've got to see Vince as important. And he's never going to manage that, is he?"- Hazel Tyler about Vince Tyler (Series 1, episode 7).
Vince is a hardworking, unswervingly loyal blue-collar type who's stuck in middle management at a chain grocery store called Harlo's. He’s polite and nice, almost to a fault. He pays his mother’s rent nearly every month, and can’t say no to anyone, even when it puts him in an uncomfortable position. He loves science fiction, particularly the popular British TV show, Doctor Who, and considers himself an "anorak," the ultimate fan. He spends his nights out with his proud faghag mother, Hazel, and his mad group of friends. He lacks self-confidence, even though Craig Kelly, the actor who plays him, is utterly gorgeous. He goes to Canal Street, trolling the pubs and dance clubs, but more often than not he goes home alone and falls asleep in front of the telly. Vince thinks he’s unattractive, worries about whether or not he’s a good kisser, and doesn’t consider himself important enough for anyone to love, despite the fact that his mother’s world revolves around him, and everyone he meets becomes taken with him, even when they have good reasons not to.
”Oh my god! Oh! My! God! Omigod! Oh…my god!”- Vince Tyler practicing appearing surprised (S1, ep. 7).
While Vince is pretty much the stereotypical Nice Guy, he has one fundamental flaw: he’s a liar. He lies to get himself out of uncomfortable situations with his myriad of admirers—usually using the excuse that his friend’s mother is in the hospital, and he has to leave. He lies to Stuart, Hazel, his other friends, his co-workers, and himself. He lies when he doesn’t have to, when the truth would be completely acceptable. Worse than the fact that he’s a liar, though, is the fact that he’s a bad liar. Vince can’t act. He uses the phrase “Oh my god!” an almost comical amount of times over the course of the show, and Craig Kelly does a great job of making every single utterance of it sound different, so that the audience can tell when Vince is serious and when he’s lying through his teeth. Vince wears his heart on his sleeve, and all of his emotions play out clearly across his face. The lies work on one-time potential shags and casual acquaintances, but anyone who knows him at all sees right through his bullshit.
“Vince, hard on! Go on, pull it out, then!”- Stuart to Vince, mocking after a hug between the two men (S1, ep.1).
Vince’s biggest character point, the one that is the basis for the show, is his love for Stuart. Canonically, Vince has been totally, completely and not so secretly in love with Stuart since they met at age fourteen. Best friends at first glance, the closest they come to sex is in the first days of their relationship when they have a near-wank that gets interrupted by Hazel. Sixteen years later, Vince’s devotion to Stuart leads other characters to view him as Stuart’s hapless lapdog. He stays sober to drive Stuart home at the end of nights out, he takes care of Stuart’s son, he deals with mending the broken hearts of the men Stuart leaves behind, and he does it all with only a minimum of fuss. Despite this evidence, somehow he’s convinced himself that no one, especially not Stuart, knows his true feelings for his best mate. This has to do in equal parts with Vince’s fear of rejection—his mistaken belief that Stuart could never love him back—and his desire to retain his friendship with Stuart.
Stuart Alan Jones (Aidan Gillen)
“I have to live with me every day, and I know that I'm lovely. I'm completely lovely." - Stuart Alan Jones (S1, ep.2)
Stuart Jones is almost the antithesis of Vince. He's a rich, confident, sexy Lothario who takes home a different man every night. Known as the “King of Canal Street,” he doesn't give much thought to morals or scruples when it comes to taking what he wants, so long as it revolves around mindless pleasure. Stuart’s a PR wiz with a big office and a personal assistant, the spunky and acid-tongued Sandra. Aidan Gillen struts onto the screen as Stuart and simply bleeds sex. Pictures and quotes don't do this man justice. You have to see him in action to appreciate why people fall all over themselves to be with him despite the fearless, antagonistic energy he exudes.
“Soon as I saw you, I thought, 'Clever little bastard.'”- Hazel Tyler to Stuart Jones about their first meeting (S1, ep. 7).
When you first meet Stuart, you can count the number of people he cares about on one hand. There’s Vince, his best mate; Hazel, the surrogate mother whose house became his own in his formative years; Romey, probably an old friend from uni; Marie, his older sister; and the aforementioned Sandra. His friendship must be earned, but once you have it, Stuart’s fiercely loyal, though he’d deny it and claim that he lives for no one but himself. The most important of his relationships is the one he has with Vince. Vince knows everything about him, every bastard thought and mischievous scheme, and loves him anyway. That devotion engenders the same response in Stuart, even if Vince doesn’t realize it. He often calls Vince a "sad bastard" and insults his inability to stand up for himself or cop off at night, but if someone else tries to say those same things, then watch out: Stuart attacks. It's very much the "no one insults my kid brother but me" mentality, and you do not want to end up on the wrong end of Stuart's fury.
“He's the best. I've had the best.”- Nathan Maloney about Stuart Jones (S1, ep. 2).
By the end of the first episode, Stuart’s personal attachments increase by 40%, because it’s then that Romey gives birth to Alfie, the baby that Stuart fathers by means of artificial insemination. And more importantly for the plot, the first episode also chronicles Stuart meeting Nathan Maloney (Charlie Hunnam). Eager, gorgeous and irrepressible, this fifteen-year-old boy fresh out of the closet turns Stuart and Vince's lives upside down. Twenty-nine year old Stuart deflowers Nathan in a slightly disturbing, graphic and morally questionable scene, and earns the (mostly undesired) adoration of the boy. Through sheer brute force and stubborn teenage bravado, Nathan worms his way into Stuart’s affections. He follows Stuart around, but can't seem to decide if he wants to have Stuart or become Stuart. The lover/mentor relationship between Nathan and Stuart deeply affects Vince, who has grown used to being Stuart's number one acolyte and closest friend.
I could argue that the entire series is proof, but that wouldn’t tell you anything. So instead, I’ve picked some of the most important moments and key events of the series and broken them down into easy to navigate sections.
”Every time I go ‘round Hazel’s, there he is! She’s cooking him tea!”- Vince complaining about Nathan living in his mother’s house (S1, ep. 5).
Jealousy makes up a large part of the Stuart/Vince relationship. They’re so used to being in each other’s pockets, that when someone interferes with that, they become insanely jealous. They’re not jealous of the one-time shags. Those men aren’t worth it. Anyway, if Vince takes the time to feel jealous of every man that Stuart shags, he’d never get anything else done. No, they’re only jealous of the ones that matter.
Nathan Maloney- Our little Nathan thrives on attention, and from the word “go,” he’s worked to keep Stuart’s. Stuart views him first as an annoyance, and then as his successor, taking over as King of Canal Street. Vince refers to Nathan as “chicken” (meaning, more or less, “fresh meat” or “twink”). When Stuart makes the mistake of having sex with Nathan in Vince’s old bedroom, Vince doesn’t speak to him for two weeks.
Cameron Roberts- Cameron is Vince’s first boyfriend. He’s an older (and by older I mean thirty-six to Vince’s twenty-nine) Australian accountant that meets Vince at a mutual friend’s wake. Cameron doesn’t like Stuart, and makes no secret of this. When Stuart feels threatened by Cameron, first he flirts with him, in a failed play to tempt the man away from Vince. When this doesn’t work, he pretends that Cameron doesn’t exist, and uses guilt and manipulation to get Vince’s attention back.
In the end, Nathan stays around and becomes part of their circle of friends, because he realizes his place in Stuart’s life—namely somewhere behind Vince. Meanwhile, at the end of the first series, Cameron gets dropped like a bad habit, because he trivializes Vince’s relationship with Stuart, and tries too hard to break them apart.
“That’s not sex! It’s not sex if you don’t come!”- Vince in reference to his near-wank with Stuart (S1, ep. 2).
The story is legendary among our characters: Vince almost got to shag Stuart once when they were fourteen years old. Sitting alone in Vince’s room, they’d both gotten turned on by looking at a picture of Barry Sheen in the magazine Radio Times. Stuart, always bold as brass, reached a hand inside Vince’s pants and started wanking him off “nice and slow.” Unfortunately, right before Vince could come, they got interrupted by Hazel, Vince’s mother. Thus begins the tale of Stuart and Vince.
And as story tells it, sixteen years later, Vince still follows Stuart around, waiting for Stuart to finish what they started. Vince still has that copy of the Radio Times that he pulls out whenever he feels nostalgic. People call him sad and pathetic for his devotion to Stuart, but what they don’t see is that Stuart’s the same way, his desire just manifests itself differently.
Stuart projects his desire for Vince onto Nathan, naïve and virginal Nathan who’s conveniently almost the exact same age as Stuart and Vince when they had their near-wank. In S1, ep.4, Stuart goes so far in his projection that he gives Nathan the wank he wants to give Vince. And what’s more, he does it in Vince’s childhood bedroom, the same place they’d almost had sex all those years ago. While staring at pictures of him and Vince as teenagers. You cannot get more blatant than that.
Afterwards, though, when Vince finds out about this indiscretion (Stuart does it with Vince sitting in the living room), Vince runs off, refusing to acknowledge Stuart. They don’t speak for weeks. Nathan often talks about wanting to make Stuart beg for him, and even kids himself into thinking he’s accomplished it at one point. However, it’s Vince who brings Stuart as close to begging as we’ve ever seen him. This occurs when Stuart follows Vince out of Hazel’s house. Vince walks briskly down the middle of the street with Stuart trailing beside him in his Jeep, begging Vince to get in:
Stuart: "Vince. Vince! Oy, where are you going? Get in the car! We'll go out, go for a drink, go back to mine. Whatever you want, you know? Whatever you want...Fine. Fuck off, then. I'm going. Fuck off...Please, just get in the car!" (S1, ep.4)
Stuart: “I came to Manchester. First day at school there was Vince. He knew.”
Nathan: “He’ll come back.”
Stuart: “He’s not coming back.”
(Stuart to Nathan about the first time he met Vince, deleted scene.)
Both Stuart and Vince profess their love for one another in various ways. Sometimes it’s through words, but most of the time it’s with actions.
I’ve established that Stuart’s a selfish bastard. In Vince’s own words: “He doesn’t care, Stuart” (S1, ep.2). It’s important, then, that the only completely selfless act that Stuart commits throughout the entire series is for Vince. Cameron accuses Stuart of stringing Vince along, and claims that Vince will never grow up if he’s always with Stuart.
In typical over-the-top Stuart fashion, he throws Vince a fabulous surprise party for his thirtieth birthday, and then pushes Vince away so hard it leaves everyone reeling. Stuart does this by inviting Rosalie, a woman from Vince’s work that fancies him, to the party and outs Vince in a way that humiliates Vince and Rosalie both.
But before Rosalie arrives, he tries one last time to take Vince away from Cameron, with this conversation:
Vince: “Remember in school? We used to talk about being twenty.”
Stuart: “All those plans we made. We were gonna get a flat and live together.”
Stuart: “Still could. You could move in here. We could get a house together, I’ll pay.”
Vince: “Don’t know what Cameron would say.”
This conversation leads directly to the first honest, serious kiss between them. We soon find out that the kiss is Stuart’s way of saying good-bye to Vince.
Nathan sees how miserable Stuart has become without Vince and contrives to reunite them. At Stuart’s apartment, Nathan has this very telling exchange with him, concerning emotions and Stuart’s inability to admit he loves anyone:
Nathan: You can't say it, can you? Look at you, you can't! Do you love Vince?
Stuart: All right, Nathan, fuck off. (S1, ep.7)
In not refuting Nathan’s comments, he admits everything. After Nathan plays matchmaker and gets them to talk to one another again, Stuart and Vince agree to meet for lunch. What follows there is one of the most touching declarations of love ever written. It’s all in Aidan Gillen’s delivery and the audience’s understanding that this is the closest Stuart’s come to admitting his feelings in the sixteen years he’s known Vince:
Vince: “It’s not as if I’ve ever done anything.”
Stuart: “You’ve done nothing, Vince. You go to work, you go for a drink. You sit at home and watch cheap science fiction. Small and tiny world. What is there…that’s so impressive about that? What is there to love?”
Stuart: “…It was good enough for me.”
After this admission and Stuart proving his devotion to Vince by naming all of the actors who played Doctor Who (and in order!), Vince breaks up with Cameron. As he’s running to see Stuart, he quotes Doctor Who, declaring to a random person on the street:
Vince: “Unrequited love, it’s fantastic! Because it never has to change, it never has to grow up and it never has to die!” (S1, ep.8)
That’s about as straightforward as you can get. Vince likes the simplicity of unrequited love, but he doesn’t realize that his love isn’t unrequited at all.
With Vince, if he never said a single word throughout the entire series, you’d still know that he loves Stuart. Anyone who looks at a person with an expression that combines affection, amusement and fierce happiness, like the way that Vince looks at Stuart—even when that person is doing something rude or terrible—has to be in love.
”Come and save me, Vince.”- Stuart to Vince (S1, ep.4)
Stuart needs Vince. Vince hangs around with Stuart. Vince adores Stuart. Vince would do anything for Stuart. But Vince doesn’t need Stuart, and that’s what stops him from being a weak character in my mind. Vince has a loving mother, and tons of friends and co-workers to care about him. If their friendship ended, Vince would be absolutely devastated, but he would move on. He would be ok.
The same can’t be said for Stuart. We see firsthand what he’s like without Vince after the stunt he pulls at Vince’s birthday party. He drinks himself into a stupor and then would have driven home if Nathan hadn't caught him. He’s angry and irritable towards everyone. The morning after the party, a cleaning crew comes in to fix Stuart’s flat, but somehow, all the gigantic pictures of Vince remain, including a life-size cardboard cut out positioned right next to Stuart’s bed. When Hazel asks him how he’s coping, he responds, “I’m just waiting for the punch line” (S1, ep.6).
He tries to convince himself that he’s ok. At one point he declares to their friend, in a moment of sheer panic and denial—”My world is so fucking HUGE!” (S1, ep.8). Aidan Gillen’s expression is crazy and desperate, and it prompts him to say in the audio commentary for that episode, ”I look like I want to kill myself.” Stuart needs Vince.
Russell T. Davies makes this even more explicit to the audience when, still shaken, upset and separated from Vince, Stuart almost goes home with a man that the audience knows killed another character. He’s only stopped by the appearance of Vince, freshly broken up with Cameron and ready to renew their friendship. Stuart sees Vince and forgets about the evil potential shag, causing the man to walk away in disgust.
The point is clear: whether or not they even know it, Stuart cannot survive without Vince. Russell T. Davies himself puts it best in the commentary when he notes: ”[Stuart’s] lost his power. He’s Vince-less.”
”Oh well, maybe next time.”-Vince, stopping Stuart from shooting a homophobic man they encounter. (Series 2, ep.2)
Stuart and Vince balance each other out. Without Vince, Stuart lets his rage and anger get the best of him, and that leads to things like blowing up cars and threatening to shoot people. Vince tempers him, and provides him with an outlet from all that. In exchange, Stuart forces Vince to have fun, enjoy life and be a bit naughty. For instance, Vince plays right along while Stuart points a gun in the face of a bigot. He just wheedles an apology out of the man that makes Stuart lower it in the end. In fact, though Stuart wields the gun, it’s Vince that antagonizes the man, in a completely Stuart-like manner.
Bigot: "I said, ‘Faggots.’
Vince (to Stuart): "What do you think?"
Stuart: "Blood." (Stuart pulls out the gun and points it at the Bigot)
Vince (to Stuart): "Hold on a tick.” (To the Bigot) "Bit deaf, mate. Too many nights out clubbing. So, one more time: what did you say?"
Vince: "And one more word, beginning with 's'."
They complement each other, and it leads the audience to the realization that whether or not Stuart and Vince are meant for each other, they’re obviously not meant for anyone else.
“There are many rumours about Stuart and Vince. All of them true.”- Epilogue to series two (S2, ep.2).
Stuart and Vince spend much of the second series playing a game of cat and mouse. Stuart tries time and again to persuade Vince to participate in a threesome. When that doesn’t work, he takes Hazel’s advice to ”cut out the middle man” (S2, ep1). He and Vince nearly shag in a hotel after a wedding reception, but Vince backs down at the last moment.
Frustrated and angry with Vince, Stuart plans to move out of Manchester and to London. At the last moment, Hazel and Vince race to reach Stuart, driving through a parade and getting pulled over by the police. Vince runs the last few yards and catches up to Stuart, who’s standing by his Jeep, waiting for Vince to arrive.
Stuart: "Nice try, you're not coming."
Vince: "I'll do what I like."
Stuart: "You're not. Cause it'll just be you and me—Stuart and Vince, old married couple. Not a shag in sight. I'm not settling down, ever."
Vince (grinning): "London though? London's rubbish. Kids go to London."
Stuart: "Where else is there?"
Vince: "I'd go out. Straight ahead and out. Keep moving. You can't settle down if you don’t ever stop. I've been thinking about this for years. Press the button, dematerialize, step out, new planet."
Stuart: “No passengers, Vince. You let me down and I’ll kill you.”
Vince: “Not if I kill you first. (A shared grin) So what are we waiting for?”
And then they say their final good-byes to Nathan and Canal Street, and run off in search of bigger and better adventures to face together.
Stuart and Vince wear matching silver bracelets all throughout the series. The bracelets are never mentioned. They’re never explained or showcased, but they’re always there.
Stuart considers Vince’s family his own, because he’s not very close with his mom and dad. He mocks Vince’s love of science fiction, but can name all of the Doctor Whos in order, even recognizing that to Vince, the actor Paul McGann doesn’t count. This shows that he pays attention to Vince and the things he says.
Queer as Folk UK is basically ten episodes of television based around one relationship. It’s a ‘shipper’s dream. It’s romantic and touching, but never, ever sappy. And Stuart and Vince aren’t an established relationship. They never get together on screen, and the end is ambiguous enough that it leaves many options for exploration in fan fiction. The relationship is still full of subtext and angst and subtle flirting, like all of the best slash pairings. There’s lust and unrequited love and fierce, relentless devotion.
There’s so much history between these two characters, and so much that we don’t see, that fic writers can go wild. Stuart/Vince stories are set pre-series, either when they’re teenagers or sometime before Nathan enters their lives; during the series, sticking in fun missing scenes or breaking off into an AU storyline; or post-series, taking us on Stuart and Vince’s adventure across the U.S.
Russell T. Davies adds little throwaway comments (Stuart to Vince: “Tell him about the guy with the broken leg!” [S1, ep.5] Vince to Stuart: “I had to piss in the sink! That's what happens because of you; I end up pissing in my own sink!" [S1, ep.5].) that in and of themselves can be stretched into whole fics.
Across the Pond-Fic archive for both UK and US fiction.
Cesare's Cabinet and her archive at Across the Pond- a prolific UK writer whose series "Almost Never" chronicles Stuart and Vince's lives from when they first meet until their American adventure.
Rhipodon Society-Archived site found on The Wayback Machine. Truly amazing stories here that really capture the Vince/Stuart dynamic in the best way that I've seen.
Edited on 7.10.07 to fix link: Mallory Klohn's fic- Two of the funniest stories in the UK fandom.
Speranza's fic- Three lovely Stuart/Vince stories that are sexy and clever.
Tia's fic- Archived at Across the Pond. Lots of great stories, with a perfect Stuart voice.
QAFUK recs on crack_van- All good stories, almost exclusively Stuart/Vince. Recs by raveninthewind.
Steph's Quality Used Fics and Recs!- My own site, which contains my fics, as well as a QAFUK rec page.
Killa's fanvids- Contains one vid to the song, "Little Brother" by Oysterband. Uses clips from many of the most important scenes from the show, including when Stuart kisses Vince on Vince's birthday and when Stuart follows Vince in his Jeep. It also shows how much Vince doesn't understand Stuart and Stuart's reciprocal feelings towards him.
Edited 8.12.06 to add: Brothers on a Hotel Bed by obsessive24- An amazing new fanvid set to the song "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" by Death Cab for Cutie. A great Stuart/Vince overview of the show, with emphasis, obviously, on the hotel bed scene from the second series. This vid also gives respect to the peripheral characters of the show such as Nathan, Alexander and Hazel, showing their struggles and the way that their lives revolve around and affect Stuart and Vince.
goodenough4me- Dedicated to Stuart/Vince
queerasfolkuk- The show in general
aidangillen- The actor who plays Stuart
craigkelly- The actor who plays Vince
General Fun Stuff:
QAFUK overview on crack_van- written by butterfly. Gives more description of all the main characters, as well as a synopsis of each episode.
StuartnVince yahoo group- Full of tons of nice people, as well as a giant archive of fic, a tape tree, the series two script, and lots of pictures.
QAFLovers Smartgroup- So many pictures of Aidan and Craig, from every TV, movie or theatre appearance they've made.
TWoP's recaps- Includes recaps for all ten episodes of the show, as well as an interesting interview with Russell T. Davies.
Official Aidan Gillen website- Has an archive of Q&As that Aidan's given, which are a must-read. Aidan's refreshingly honest about his experiences making QAFUK.
xof's Fun Stuff- Audio clips of funny and insightful moments from the commentary, as well as from the deleted scenes. She has the clip of Stuart telling Nathan, "[Vince] knew," and the one of Russell T. Davies calling Stuart "Vince-less." Remember! Be kind and save target as!
I'll end this essay with some of Vince's last words to Nathan. It's advice that, first of all, I think everyone could do to follow, but more importantly, I think also sums up the relationship between Stuart and Vince and the way that Vince has governed his life:
Vince: "[T]his lot--they'll shag ya. They'll rob ya. Some of them might even love ya. And they'll all forget you in the end. Just stick with your friends and you'll be fine."