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Queer as Folk

Canal Street's glittering drama

In February 1999, a drama burst onto British TV screens. It showed a dazzling and glossy world where trees were lit by twinkling fairy lights and glitter-covered muscle-boys cruised the canal-side.

This was a world of fabulous friends and outrageous adventures - the show was Queer as Folk, the place was Manchester's Canal Street.

It was clear from the beginning that one of the main stars of the series would be the City of Manchester. From the first episode's dazzling shot of Stuart and Vince looking out across the city skyline re-enacting Titanic, to the fairy-lit, disco-pumping Village scenes - Manchester was out, proud and centre-stage.

The Canal Street venue Mantos featured in the very first scene of Queer as Folk. In 1990 Mantos signalled the start of the Village as we know it today. For the first time Canal Street had a bar with large glass windows, allowing passers-by to see inside. This was the beginning of the cosmopolitan, canal-side culture and Mantos still stands today as a symbol of the Village's beginnings.

One of the main settings for the show was to be Cruz 101, which at that time was the only gay club in the Village. The club in Queer as Folk was called Babylon and Canal Street clubbers were hired as extras and transported to a straight club in the nearby town of Bolton for filming.

Even before the first episode had aired some of the British tabloids were calling for Queer as Folk to be banned. On the day of the first episode, the Daily Mail called it a 'degrading spectacle' and said the nation was 'hell-bent on destruction' for allowing it to be aired.

It was a sign that the show was causing a stir. In America, boot-leg copies were circulated in bars and Elton John rang up Channel 4 wanting copies of the series. Charlie Hunnan, who played school-boy Nathan Maloney was invited to meet Madonna in L.A.

As for the real star of the show, the Village revelled in its new-found fame and became famous across the world. The places that Stuart, Vince and even Dane stumbled out of are still there, joined by a growing list of bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels.

In the 10 years since Queer as Folk, the Village has developed into more than just a great night out and has become a true community.

All these organisations and venues come together every August for Manchester Pride. Thousands of people arrive in the Village and across Manchester for this unique ten-day event.

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