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Olly Alexander’s It’s a Sin character refuses to believe Aids is real in dark new teaser

"Do you seriously think there's an illness that only kills gay men? What about bisexuals? Do they only get sick every other day?"

By Will Stroude

After we shared the first trailer for Russell T Davies’ new Channel 4 series It’s a Sin last month, a brand new teaser is offering a dark and ominous look at the first-ever British TV drama focused solely on the Aids crisis.

The five-part series from Queer as Folk creator Davies – set to premiere in the UK later this month and on HBO Max in the US later this year – stars Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander as Ritchie Tozer; a gay teenager who moves to London in 1981 during the early days of the crisis.

In a new clip shared to Twitter by Alexander on Tuesday (5 January), Ritchie is seen ridiculing early reports in the early 1980s about a new illness that appeared to be leading to the deaths of gay men in the US and around the world.

“Do you know what it really is, Aids? It’s a racket. It’s a money-making scheme for drugs companies”, Ritchie declares.

“Do you seriously think there’s an illness that only kills gay men? That can calculate that you’re gay and kill you, but no one else? Hmm. What about bisexuals? Do they only get sick every other day?

“They say it’s a cancer, but you can’t catch cancer, can you? Cancer is not a thing that can get caught! It’s not like a cold or a cough it’s cancer! It doesn’t transmit. Imagine it, ‘gay cancer’. How is a cancer gay?!”

“You hear all these stories, and all these rumours and all these nightmares, because that’s what they want you to think”, Ritichie continues, poiting to a group of straight people in a bar.

“They want to scare us and stop us having sex and make us really boring, basically because they can’t get laid – that’s the truth.”

Listing some common early rumours about Aids – that it was spread by poppers, that it created in a laboratory, or by the Russians – Ritichie adds: “They say it affects homosexuals, Haitians and hemophiliacs, like there’s a disease that targets the letter ‘H’. Who’s it going to get next? people from Hartlepool and Hampshire and Hull?

“Don’t you see what all of these things have got in common? They’re not true! And how do I know, how do I know it’s not true? Because I’m not stupid. Which means I don’t believe it.”

As he kisses more and more boys in a gay club, he shouts: “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it! I don’t believe a word…”

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 harrowing 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 on Channel 4 in the UK this month and on HBO Max in the US later in the year.