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Russell T Davies’ Aids drama ‘It’s A Sin’, formerly known as ‘Boys’, gets first teaser trailer

Olly Alexander leads the eagerly anticipated new series, which arrives on Channel 4 in 2021.

By Will Stroude

Russell T Davies’ eagerly-anticipated new Aids drama It’s a Sin (formerly known as Boys) has got its first teaser image and trailer ahead of its arrival on Channel 4 next year.

The five-part drama, which stars Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander, follows a group of friends navigating life and the Aids crisis in London in the 1980s.

Set to premiere on Channel 4 in early 2021 in the UK and on HBO Max in the US, It’s a Sin also stars TV heavyweights Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry and Neil Patrick Harris, as well as relative newcomers Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, and Nathaniel Curtis.

Having originally been titled The Boys, writer Davies previously confirmed the series would undergo a name change after the premiere of Amazon Prime’s superhero drama of the same name. After being changed to Boys, the series has now undergone a second – rather attention-grabbing – renaming.

An official synopsis reads: “It’s 1981, the start of a new decade and Ritchie (Olly Alexander Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and Colin (Callum Scott Howells) begin a new life in London.

“Strangers at first, these young gay lads, and their best friend Jill (Years and Years’ Lydia West), find themselves thrown together, and soon share each other’s adventures. But a new virus is on the rise, and soon their lives will be tested in ways they never imagined.

From left-right: ‘It’s a Sin’ stars Olly Alexander, Omari Douglas and Callum Scott Howells

“As the decade passes, and they grow up in the shadow of AIDS, they’re determined to live and love more fiercely than ever.”

Having teased for years that a series about the Aids crisis was in the works, Queer as Folk creator Davies says 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.”

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. 

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OLLY ALEXANDER stars as Ritchie in BOYS, Channel 4, 2020. Also starring KEELEY HAWES as Ritchie’s mum, Valerie, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS as Henry Coltrane and STEPHEN FRY as Arthur Garrison, plus TRACY ANN OBERMAN as Carol Carter, with SHAUN DOOLEY as Clive. The story of three young boys arriving in London in 1981, just as a new virus appears, @ollyyears stars alongside blazing new talent: LYDIA WEST (from Years and Years) as Jill, OMARI DOUGLAS as Roscoe, NATHANIEL CURTIS as Ash, CALLUM HOWELLS as Colin 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Cast by Andy Pryor Casting, Directed by Peter Hoar, produced by Phil Collinson. . . . @channel4 @redproductionco @ollyyears #boys @misskeeleyhawes @nathaniel.curtis @callumhowells_c @marsdoug @carlyle_david @tracyanno @stephenfryactually @nph @nathanieljhall @davidgajones @shaun_dooley_ @philcollinson @pjuk @nicolanshindler @andypryorcasting @realandypryor @meccleston Yes, I’ve gone from Years and Years to Years & Years, I know 😉

A post shared by Russell T Davies (@russelltdavies63) on

“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, who has a recurring role in the seires says: “I’m so pleased, and incredibly proud, to be a part of Russell T Davies’ new series. 

“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 last year’s Attitude Awards, previously teased what was to come on the series, telling Attitude: “It’s enormously entertaining and funny but fucking 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 set to premiere on Channel 4 in early 2021 in the UK and on HBO Max in the US.