Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Davies met Cook a decade ago on the set of Doctor Who in Cardiff

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Russell T Davies, 51

One of the most successful TV writers of his generation, Davies (left in picture) is the man behind 'Queer As Folk', the relaunched 'Doctor Who', the forthcoming series of comedy dramas 'Cucumber' and 'Banana' and, with Ben Cook, the accompanying documentary 'Tofu'. He lives with his partner in Manchester

I first met Ben a decade ago on the set of Doctor Who. He was a journalist for the official Doctor Who Magazine, so he visited regularly. I suppose at first I was a little wary of this potential superfan, but then I was a superfan myself; I just happened to become the anorak who got the keys to the kingdom. Inevitably, then, I was always going to be welcoming to another anorak. And the good news was that Ben turned out to be absolutely lovely.

He interviewed me regularly thereafter, and we'd often follow the interview with a pizza at a nearby restaurant, where we could have a laugh and talk about life instead.

Because Ben hung around the set a lot, and because he happens to be a very good-looking lad, practically everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true! If I had been going out with somebody in their twenties, I wouldn't have kept it a secret; I'd have broadcast it to the world!

I like the way Ben thinks. He has that proper journalistic impulse for interrogation, and he is a genuine documentarian. Instead of asking me about, for example, Daleks, he wanted to know about writing, and deconstructing it. That's how we ended up collaborating on a book together, The Writer's Tale, all about the craft of writing for television.

After I moved on from Doctor Who, I went to live in Los Angeles, and we drifted apart. But I did watch as Ben started to document YouTube, and the YouTube generation, online. He has become nothing less than a historian on vlogging, and he does it very well indeed.

Cucumber and Banana, my latest TV projects, are comedy dramas on the passions and pitfalls of 21st-century gay life. We also wanted to make a companion documentary on contemporary sex culture, called Tofu. I was looking for a documentarian to make it when I realised one of my best friends was just that.

Ben has interviewed about 40 people on their sex lives, and it is the most beautiful piece of film-making. A lot of young people can feel lost and alone, but what this documentary shows is that there are always other people out there just like you.

I suppose initially I did worry that working together on this might compromise our friendship, but that hasn't happened at all. No clashes, no arguments. Our friendship mostly exists online now – but doesn't everyone's, these days? I'm sure it will endure. He is certainly more than welcome to come down and vlog about whatever I do next.

Ben Cook, 32

A journalist and film-maker, Cook's first job was as a writer on 'Doctor Who Magazine'. He has since been a regular contributor to the 'Radio Times' and has filmed a successful 12-part documentary series about the British YouTube community. He lives in London

The first time I met Russell was on a street corner in Cardiff, on the very first day of his filming Doctor Who, in 2004. It had been off our screens for 16 years, and I confess that the show had passed me by while I was at school. I thought it was for the sort of kids who got bullied, so I only discovered it in the 1990s by watching UK Gold. I quickly became a big fan.

There was a lot of scepticism, initially, about the pairing of Doctor Who and Russell, the writer of the racy, late-night Queer As Folk. I think many people thought it would be a disaster. I thought it might run to a single season, but I was just happy it was back. In the end, it turned out to be better than ever.

Russell was very generous. He invited me on to the set regularly, and always encouraged me to write what I liked – even if that meant criticising the occasional episode. I quickly became fascinated by him, and the art and discipline of writing itself. What's it like to be staring at the computer screen in the middle of the night, knowing 100 people are waiting for the results of that writing in just a few hours' time? We started swapping a lot of very intense emails – thousands – and he offered so much insight into the art of storytelling.

Our friendship was mostly developed that way, online. Russell writes very, very good emails. When we occasionally got together in person, I always found it rather strange. It was like meeting somebody off the telly; it almost felt as if we were betraying the trust that we had built up during what we rather pompously referred to as our Great Correspondence.

After two years of emailing, which resulted in The Writer's Tale, he headed off to America, and I started making my own documentaries online. But we kept in touch. My friendship with Russell has always felt strong, despite or perhaps because it mostly flourished online at 4am. You can share some very revelatory moments over email at four in the morning…

We started working together again as he wanted me to make a companion piece to Cucumber and Banana, a non-sensational documentary to highlight the fact that there are all sorts of people out there enjoying all sorts of consensual sex. I agreed immediately. When Russell T Davies asks you to collaborate with him, you say yes without hesitation. Who wouldn't? He is an incredibly intelligent, extraordinarily kind man who understands how human beings work. Thank god he is also a brilliant writer, but if he weren't able to write, he would have been a psychologist, or perhaps even a Derren Brown. He is a brilliant man. I am honoured to know him.

'Cucumber' and 'Banana' air on Thursday on Channel 4 and E4 respectively; 'Tofu' is now available to watch on 4oD

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