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Callum Scott Howells shares Russell T Davies’ advice about his BAFTA nominated It’s A Sin scene

The Welsh actor was speaking at a BAFTA event about his heartbreaking Aids-diagnosis scene.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Channel 4

Callum Scott Howells has shared the advice he was given by Russell T Davies ahead of filming his heartbreaking scene in It’s A Sin, where his character, Colin, is diagnosed with Aids. 

The scene has been nominated for Virgin Media’s Must-See Moment Award at the BAFTAs this year and is one of 11 nominations for the Channel 4 drama (which has already won two of them for Best Director and Editing)

Speaking at one of BAFTAs Television Sessions Q&As on Monday (25 April), the Welsh actor, 22, said he vividly remembers a conversation he had with the It’s A Sin writer about the scene on set.

“Just go for it”

“Russell was like, ‘just go for it’,” Callum recounted.

“And in a way that said so much about what he’s like and how generous he is. I was a first-time actor, I had everything to prove and he was like, ‘go for it’. There was no note he gave that was so directly profound but it was profound. He was so brilliant at supporting us,” the actor continued.

Callum added: “He just knew what to say and when to say it and working with someone for the first time someone like Russell who is obviously a bloody genius it was so amazing.”

Colin’s diagnosis during episode 3 of It’s A Sin devastated fans at the time.

Now, it’s up for Virgin Media’s Must-See Moment Award, the only BAFTA decided by the British public, at the 2022 BAFTA TV Awards, which are set to be broadcast on Sunday 8 May. 

Of the above scene Callum said: “I was so scared of the scene. I first read it when I was at drama school, ’cause that’s when I auditioned, and I think I was so scared of that scene but Peter [Hoar – director] was so great at breaking things down with me.”

Previously, the Welsh actor has said he is “honoured” to have been a part of the Aids-drama. 

He told Attitude: “to be a part of something which hopefully will affect people, I’m really proud of [it].”

He also said: “I worked really hard and without being too dramatic I think I really did leave a big chunk of myself in Colin. The scene where he’s in bed and he’s basically told he’s going to die… I mean, f**k, we really had to go there.”

It’s A Sin was widely acclaimed on its debut on Channel 4 last year, as it deftly charted the AIDS crisis in 1980s and 1990s Britain through the lives of a group of young gay friends in London.

The series became Channel 4’s most-binged new series ever and went on to win the Inspiration Award at the 2021 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar.

The Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards will take place on Sunday 8 May at The Royal Festival Hall, hosted by Richard Ayoade and broadcast on BBC One.

The Attitude May/June issue is out now.