Words: Will Stroude
Channel 4 have unveiled the first official trailer and poster for Russell T Davies' powerful new Aids drama It's A Sin ahead of the show's premiere in early 2021.
The five-part series from Queer as Folk creator Davies - set to air on Channel 4 in the UK and HBO Max in the US - stars Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander as Ritchie Tozer; a gay teenager who moves to London in 1981 during the early days of the Aids crisis.
It's a Sin will chart the lives of Ritchie's friends as they navigate life, love and loss over the course of the Eighties as the horrors of the crisis begin to unfold.
The new 60-second trailer, which will air on terrestrial TV for the first time on Channel 4 on Thursday night (17 December), gives viewers their first in-depth look at the series, as well as cast members including How I Met Your Mother's Neil Patrick Harris and legendary author and actor Stephen Fry.
The clip opens darkly and prophetically as a character played by former EastEnders star Tracey-Ann Oberman poses the question, "Where do you see yourself in five years' time?" before the show's trio of male leads Ritchie (Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and Colin (Callum Scott-Howells) respond with their hopes and dreams for the coming years.
A montage of clips soundtracked by Duran Duran's 1984 hit 'The Wild Boys' then plays out as the boys are shown partying, protesting, and dealing with a rising tide of fear and homophobia.
(L-R): Omari Douglas as Roscoe Babatunde, Olly Alexander as Ritchie Tozer and Callum Scott-Howells as Colin Morris-Jones in It's A Sin
"There are boys dying all over the world", says the group's best friend Jill (played by Years and Years star Lydia West). "But nobody knows anything".
"Do you seriously think there's an illness that only affects gay men?" says Ritchie. "I don't believe it."
Having teased for years that a series about the Aids crisis was in the works, Davies previously said of It's A Sin: "I lived through those times, and it’s taken me decades to build up to this. And as time marches on, there’s a danger the story will be forgotten. So it’s an honour to write this for the ones we lost, and the ones who survived."
Stephen Fry as Arthur Garrison in It's A Sin
Chart-topper Alexander, who made TV appearances in shows such as Skins before finding musical success as part of Years & Years, adds: "I feel like the luckiest boy in the world to be a part of this project, I’ve been a fan of Russell T Davies ever since I watched Queer As Folk in secret at 14 years old. His work helped shape my identity as a gay person so I’m absolutely over the moon we’ll be working together.
"The script was amazing to read, I laughed and I cried a lot, it’s a privilege to be helping to tell this story and I’m so excited.”
Neil Patrick Harris, whose character Henry Coltrane remains an enigmatic figure ahead of the show's premiere, says: "I’m so pleased, and incredibly proud, to be a part of Russell T Davies’ new series.
Neil Patrick Harris as Henry Coltrane in It's A Sin
"This drama... is two things: it is an irresistible, funny, jubilant story of young people discovering their true identities and the unalloyed joy of living life to the fullest, it is also a deeply resonant exploration of a decade when so many of these lives were cut short by the devastating effects of the nascent AIDS pandemic.
"Russell’s scripts chart the highs and lows of this time so beautifully and deftly, it’s an honour to help tell this story.
Davies, who was honoured with the Culture Award at the 2019 Attitude Awards, previously promised that It's A Sin wouldn't shy away from the realities faced by gay men during the Aids crisis, telling Attitude: "It’s enormously entertaining and funny but f**king hell it gets dark… They walk into a plague."
The gay TV titan added: "We’re now at an age where the parents are dying, and [the victims of Aids] didn’t have children themselves, gay men did not have children much back then, as a rule.
"So they’re being forgotten now as their parents die."
It's A Sin is expected to premiere in early 2021 on Channel 4 in the UK and on HBO Max in the US.