The deeply moving and gripping mini-series, It’s a Sin brings alive the love, laughter and tears of gay people coming of age in the 1980s. Ritchie Tozer (Olly Alexander) is his family’s pride and joy in the Isle of Wight. When he turns 18 in 1981, he comes to London to study law but soon decides to follow his dreams of becoming an actor and quits studying law. Jill (Lydia West), from Surrey, shares his dreams of becoming an actor.
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Roscoe (Omari Douglas) decides to leave his home in Peckham, when he learns of his pastor father’s decision to take him back to Nigeria to “cure” him of his homosexuality. Colin (Callum Scott Howells) is a quiet boy from Wales, who moves to London to work as an assistant at Culver& Hound on Saville Row. Ash Mukherjee (Nathaniel Curtis) studies drama at the university. The young people’s lives converge as they rent a flat, The Pink Palace.
Even as Roscoe, Ritchie and Colin discover themselves, while having a bunch of wild adventures, there is a disquieting disease that is infecting and killing their friends. It starts with Henry Coltrane (Neil Patrick Harris), the floor manager at Culver & Hound, who befriends Colin, and his partner of 30 years, Juan Pablo, dying of mystery illnesses.
- Season: 1
- Episodes: 5
- Run time: 45 minutes
- Creator: Russell T Davies
- Starring: Olly Alexander, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, Lydia West, Nathaniel Curtis, Neil Patrick Harris, Keeley Hawes, Shaun Dooley, Nathaniel Hall, David Carlyle, Stephen Fry
- Storyline: Three gay men move to London in the 1980s and discover love, laughter and life under the spectre of AIDS
As AIDS comes closer, the boys confront the disease with denial, fear, bravery, guilt, suspicion and shame. What is obvious from the show is that public reactions to a killer virus have not changed that very much in the last 40 years. There are the wild rumours jostling for space in the public consciousness including faddish cures, dire warnings and knee-jerk legislations including the repressive Section 28 prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality. Jill works to spread awareness even as Britain reacts with disgust and distrust.
Russell T Davies has created a loving tribute to the lost boys of the decade. When Ritchie’s agent tells him about all the boys who are “going home” and extracts a promise from him not to do so, we know that keeping the promise might be out of Ritchie’s hands.
The ensemble cast is mind-blowingly good. Apart from the five main characters, the minor roles are also drawn out with a fierce honesty. Stephen Fry as the closeted MP, Keeley Hawes and Shaun Dooley as Ritchie’s parents, Nathaniel Hall as aspiring actor, Donald Bassett, David Carlyle as Roscoe’s friend and Glaswegian bus conductor, Gregory, are living, breathing characters one would love to spend time with.
The show, which begins in September 1981, ends in 1991, with the flatmates of the Pink Palace unalterably changed just like the world around them. Though the show was originally going to be called Boys, the name was changed to avoid confusion with the superhero show, The Boys . Using the Pet Shop Boys’ single for the title is apt for a series that looks at the agony and ecstasy of growing up in a rigidly-compartmentalised world, that does not look kindly at anyone or anything that marches to a different drum.
It’s a Sin is currently streaming on Lionsgate Play