Culture: Gay sex story lines spell an uncertain future for This Life

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The Independent Online
The four million fans of This Life, the television cult sensation, face a further wait now that plans for a third series have ground to a halt. David Lister, Arts News Editor, reports that an attempt to inject more gay romance into scripts was pa rtly to blame. It topped BBC2's ratings and kept millions glued to the television. But it is understood that plans for a new series of This Life, the love and career traumas of a bunch of twentysomethings sharing a south London house, have gone on hold with no immediate prospect of production work beginning.

BBC chiefs are said to be furious at the prospect of losing such a ratings winner. But the show is made by independent production company World Productions, run by Tony Garnett, the 61-year-old producer whose credits stretch back to Cathy Come Home in the Sixties.

It is understood that the current impasse has arisen after falling out with newly-signed scriptwriter Mark Ravenhill. Ravenhill, 31, is the playwright who wrote west end hit Shopping And Fucking, which with its cocktail of drugs and sex including gay sex, drew a large audience of young people, and was dubbed the "Trainspotting of the South".

People involved in This Life say that Ravenhill's draft scripts had brought in a completely different cast of characters from the ones previously sharing the Southwark flat. And though there was one gay love story in the last series, the next series would have had a much greater emphasis on gay storylines. One source said yesterday: "It is safe to say that gay sex would have been an ongoing theme."

Tony Garnett was said to be unhappy with the draft scripts and Ravenhill has now parted company with him. There are not thought to be any further plans to return to the project.

A spokeswoman at World Productions said yesterday: "I think Mark Ravenhill may have left. We don't know at the moment whether there will be a third series or not. We don't know what is happening."

Mark Ravenhill's agent Mel Kenyon said: "There is nothing to say about this. It is an administrative thing and a matter for World Productions."

A BBC spokesman said that no decision had yet been taken on whether plans for a third series had been scrapped.

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